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Make Grilled Cheese, Not War

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Stiles sat on the steps outside the homeless shelter on Linwood, his yellow backpack tucked under his knees. It was 5:20, and the door would open in ten minutes to serve dinner. He tried to ignore the drug deal that was going on not twenty feet away from him. He pretended like he didn’t know what was going on.

Stiles knew the girl he was selling to, Suzy, a small girl with bright red hair. He met her one night in the shelter. It had obviously been her first night, as she had been shaking with anxiety while everyone else settled down to sleep. Stiles had introduced himself, and offered to sit with her. She had run away from a father who took her to bed at night and a mom who pretended not to notice. She asked if anything like that ever happened at the shelters. Stiles didn’t make people false promises, so he promised her he would stay awake and watch over her. She nodded and he held her hand until she fell asleep, and then kept his promise and stayed awake.

He didn’t know what to say now, but kept watching out of the corner of his eye. She was jittery, darting her eyes around, but not seeing anyone, obviously not recognizing Stiles. When she got whatever it was she was after, she stuffed it in her purse and briskly started walking the other way. A part of him was most disappointed at that. She wasn’t going to stay for dinner, would have nothing in her system but the drugs. He wanted to follow after her and tell her a well-balanced meal might make her feel better than whatever that junk was she just bought. But it was another reminder to Stiles to not get too close to these people. Even well-meaning good people turned out bad out here. He had to protect himself and stay by himself.

“Hey man, you know what they’re serving up tonight?” the drug dealer said, leaning against the stone railing next to the stairs.

“Nah man,” Stiles said, even though he knew very well that it was grilled cheese and soup night. He didn’t want to make friends with this guy, and he certainly didn’t want the local law enforcement to see them associating. Stiles was homeless, not a criminal, a distinction he took very seriously. Though his dad had died over two years ago, Stiles wanted to make him proud.

A line formed quickly and Stiles stood up just moments before the doors swung open and the shelter director held the door while the people filtered by. Stiles hung back right inside. “Hey Dr. D, who’s cooking tonight?”

“I told you not to call me that, Stiles. I have my doctorate in Social Work. I don’t want people here thinking I can do open heart surgery, or that I want to see that rash that’s been bothering them.”

“Make me hungry, why don’t you? Is it Mike? Tony? Please say Mike. Tony does horrible unexplainable things to the grilled cheese sandwiches.” At Deaton’s confused look, Stiles continued, “The cheese to bread ratio is all off, and one time he put tomatoes and onion in them. Onion! I mean-“

Deaton cut him off. “There’s a new guy. His name is Derek. Be nice to him.”

“I am always nice,” Stiles said, hitching his backpack up his shoulders and getting on the end of the line. Stiles greeted the volunteers he knew as he went down the line with his usual snark and banter. “Hey Bob, excellent soup ladling skills as always.” “Jody, beautiful cat sweater! Extra green beans please!” When he got to the last station, it was Joe, and he looked stricken. Stiles followed his face down to his tongs, which grasped nothing. It was empty. No grilled cheese for Stiles. He made an actual frowny face and let his shoulders slump until he saw a flurry of movement coming from the kitchen.

“Sorry! Sorry, sorry, sorry.” Stiles’ facial expression perked up as he watched an extraordinarily good looking man hustle over with a new tray of grilled cheese sandwiches. Joe picked up the old tray as the man slipped in the new one, smiled, huffed in satisfaction, looked up at Stiles and said “Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to make too many before dinner actually started and them be gross for you guys.” Stiles was momentarily blinded by the smile; all white teeth and eye crinkles, stubble and pure concern for homeless people’s experiences of his sandwiches.

Stiles tried to say something back, but then his eyes wandered down to the grilled cheese and if his mouth wasn’t watering before, it started then. The sandwiches were cut in two pieces, the bread was texas toast, and there was cheese oozing out of it. “Holy mother of the god of all grilled cheeses…” By the time Stiles looked up and said “Two please,” the man was gone. The grilled cheese was as good as it looked, the best cheesiest grilled cheese he ever had.

By the time he zipped up his hoodie, picked up his backpack and started to head for the door, he was warm, and more satisfied than he’d felt in a while.

He saw Dr. D looking at him from across the room and he nodded at him, slipping out the door silently. He put his hood up against the wind. It was chilly, but not cold enough to stay the night at the shelter. Stiles didn’t like staying there if he could help it; he had his spots around the city; he had his routines to get through the night. There were nights he had spent riding the subways. He had spent nights in parks, under bridges, next to the river, sleeping in bus stops.

Stiles saw Derek walking to his car. He had a coat and a hat on and Stiles laughed to himself. He was wearing all that just to walk to his car, and then just to walk from his car to his probable very warm house. He watched Derek get in his car, back up and drive away. He tried to imagine the home he was going to; cluttered with stuff, bills on the table, messages on his phone, laundry to do, floors to sweep; boring chores, responsibilities weighing him down. Derek was probably just like the rest; trapped by their things; big televisions that forced a monthly payment, cars that required insurance payments, apartments that you had to pay for just to exist in them.

Stiles felt sorry for those people. They didn’t know his freedom; they didn’t know how to breathe deeply and be still and grateful for the moment of life with no worries about tomorrow’s day at work or making the next mortgage payment. They didn’t know how to live with nothing more than what they could carry; didn’t know they could find a day’s happiness sitting next to a musician in the park instead of buying a new ipod. They didn’t know they didn’t need a car, a coat and a hat.

All Stiles needed was himself and a hoodie. It wasn’t really even that cold yet. It was only September, and he usually didn’t need to find a place to stay inside until late October or so. He was fine outside. He was always fine.

The place Stiles slept by the river was okay. He had to take the train to Brooklyn, climb a fence, go down a rocky hill and over some bushes. It was a little colder by the river, breezier, and Stiles shivered a little. He thought about what else Derek might have in his apartment. Maybe he slept in a soft warm bed; so warm, he could sleep in his underwear. Stiles imagined them as boxer briefs, black, fitted. Maybe he was wrapped around someone; legs over their legs, arm slung over, hands clasped together.

Stiles leaned back against the tree closest to him and looked across the river to the lights of the city. The city was his home, and tomorrow would be better.

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It was a week before he saw Derek at the shelter again. It was in the middle of the day, and Stiles was sitting on top of the washing machine reading a book. There were only a few other people in the shelter, one asleep at one of the tables, two playing cards, three people in line for the phone, someone else folding clothes.

Stiles’ head shot up when he heard Derek’s voice. He sounded clipped, annoyed, a stark contrast to the low cadence of Dr. D trying to calm someone down. Stiles could only make out snippets, “But the quality of the… pancakes…. Yes, I get policy… can I buy my own…. Fine, I’ll see you Sunday.” And Derek stormed out. Stiles was momentarily torn between getting up and following him outside, and protecting his laundry. He hopped off, saw the guys playing cards eye him, and hopped back on. Every piece of clothing he owned that he wasn’t wearing was in there spinning. He couldn’t chance it.

It turned out it didn’t matter. An hour later, after his clothes were dry, and he had taken a shower and changed into a fresh pair of clothes, he walked outside to see Derek still in his car. He walked by, pretending he didn’t notice. Hell, Derek probably didn’t remember him anyway, he had just been a face among many last week. He didn’t know him.

Then Stiles noticed that Derek was wiping his face, like had had been crying. Stiles spun around, tapped on his car window before he could talk himself out of it. Derek looked up, surprised, then rolled down the window.

“Uh,” Stiles realized he didn’t have an opening, “Uh, hey.”

“Hi,” Derek said, calm, like people tapping on his window was a normal thing.

“Um, I just wanted to say that your grilled cheese sandwich was the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Like, legendary cheese to bread ratio. I mean, really stellar.”

Stiles was about to walk away feeling really stupid when Derek’s face transformed into a full blown smile, with white teeth and sad eyes turning grateful. “Thank you,” he said, and maybe sounded choked up. “You don’t know how much that means to me. Really. Thank you.”

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It’s just coincidence that Stiles makes double extra sure he’s there when the shelter next serves pancakes. Breakfast is lower key than dinner. Not as many people come to breakfast so there’s also not as many people in the kitchen. He could see Derek flipping pancakes and asked for seconds.

And they were good. The best pancakes Stiles has ever had anywhere, not just the shelter. Stiles’ Dad always told him once is an incident, twice is a coincidence, and three times… Well he didn’t need to wait for the third time.

Stiles waited for Derek. He sat on the dumpster outside the door and waited for Derek to come out with the trash from the kitchen. When he finally did, Derek’s wide smile came back when recognition spread across his features. “Hey, it’s grilled cheese guy.”

Stiles smiled, jumped off the dumpster and held it open to let Derek toss the bag in. “I’m not so sure I like that nickname. It implies that I make grilled cheese, when in fact I just enjoy eating them.”

Derek had an apron on and it was honest to god adorable on him. Stiles tried not to stare too hard but it was proving difficult.

“So,” Derek said. “How did the pancakes stack up?”

“Excellent. Best I’ve ever had here. Extra points for the pun too. What’s your secret?”

“I could tell you, but then you might be a contender for stealing my prestigious position as new temporary part-time volunteer cook.”

Stiles couldn’t believe it, but it felt like they were flirting. It had been a while since anyone flirted with him so he really wasn’t sure. Plus, they were on different sides of this shelter thing here. Derek really wouldn’t want… But Stiles wasn’t about to lose his stride. “What do you do the other part-time with yourself?”

Derek chuckled. “Uh.. I think I’m a part-time pain in Deaton’s ass, really.”

“Yeah, I kind of overheard some of that conversation the other day. Tasted like you won the battle. Seriously, good pancakes. I mean it.”

Derek’s eyes sparkled. “I’m Derek, by the way.”

“Stiles.”

They actually awkwardly shook hands.

“Do you want to go on a walk with me? Actually see what the other part-time thing I do is?

Before logic took over, Stiles said “Yes. Yeah, I’d like that.”

Derek took a minute to throw his apron back into the kitchen, not even fully going back in the door, like he was afraid if he lost a line of sight on Stiles, he might disappear.

“This way,” Derek said and they start walking.

“So,” Stiles started. “What’s the big obsession with using quality ingredients at the shelter?”

Derek looked up sharply at Stiles, “Because you guys deserve it.”

He said it so matter of factly and assertively that Stiles felt bad for asking. He kept quiet for a few more blocks. Stiles shifted his backpack. Everything he owned was in that backpack. It reminded him that this wasn’t a normal walk between two people who might like each other. He was homeless, and Derek was not. He didn’t know what he was doing, but all of a sudden it felt like a horrible idea.

“Hey, look man, I forgot I have, like, this thing I have to get to, so I think I’m just gonna…” And then he realized Derek had stopped walking and was standing facing him in front of a gate to a garden. A large garden that Stiles remembered from a few months ago was an empty lot. Now it looked beautiful; dark soil, rows of different things sprouting out of the ground, a couple people carrying things or digging.

"Oh,” Derek said, and his face fell. “Ok. That’s ok. I guess I’ll catch you-“

“Man, this is great! Did you do this?”

Derek smiled. “Well, the kids did most of it. I just started it.”

A tall lankly teenager came up, holding a large bag that looked like dirt and said, “Derek. I got the stuff. Can I start planting them?”     

           

"Yeah! Of course.” He said, just as someone else yelled from the small building that they needed Derek.

“Hey, Isaac, take Stiles and show him what you’re doing. I’ll be right back.”

Twenty minutes later, Stiles’ hands and knees were covered in dirt and he knew all about the best way to grow cabbage, which he was currently planting. He also knew all about the best time to plant carrots, how to know when to pick them, and how to get the kids in the neighborhood to eat them.

Stiles had thrown his backpack towards the edge of the garden they were working in and Isaac nodded towards it. “So, where you been staying?”

Stiles wiped his hands and stammered for a minute. “Oh, here and there. You know.”

Isaac squinted up at him from where he was digging. “Yeah man, I do know. When Derek found me, I was just staying here and there, too.” He looked down. “My dad, you know, he wasn’t a nice person to me. So I left and after a while, Derek found me and helped me. Saved my life, really”

"Helped you how?”

“Hey,” a voice said from behind him.

“Derek!” Stiles faltered and just about fell over his feet. “We were just…”

"Isaac, I didn’t say you could put Stiles to work.”

“I don’t mind, really.” Stiles smiled, saw Derek smile back.

He heard Isaac make a ‘huh’ sound behind him, then come up and clap him on his shoulder. “Thanks, man. Derek, these are all done. I gotta get started on my chemistry. See you later.”

Neither of them had turned to look at Isaac when he talked.

Stiles finally looked down, moved some dirt with his foot. He suddenly remembered the thought he had earlier about who he was and who Derek was. And just how different they were. Stiles was just a homeless club kid, living on the street, eating for free in the shelter and sleeping under bridges. He could romanticize it, defend his decision. But Derek was a real person with a home, a job and why in the world would he be interested in Stiles? God, he was making a fool of himself.

He fidgeted a moment, then walked out to where his backpack was, hoisted it on his back and said “Thanks for the walk, and the time in the dirt. I should, you know, get going.”

“Oh, ok,” Derek said, but Stiles was already walking away. He didn’t want to see the pity on his face, or hear the inevitable ‘But Do You Have Somewhere To Go’ question regular people asked him. He had places to go. He always had a place to go.

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That night, it was too cold by the river. So he rode the subway to the park and stood quietly around a burning trash can surrounded by several other people. A couple of them he knew, but most of them were strangers. Stiles never felt out of place or nervous around homeless people. Here, there was no judgment, no pitying eyes, no handouts.

No one asked each other why they were homeless, why they were living that way or what happened. They just existed together, moved over to make room next to the fire, or said “Hey, man. I got an extra pair of gloves, you need them?” Stile felt comfortable, safe. He wasn’t going to be questioned here.

He ended up falling asleep under a tree, close enough to the fire and the people to feel the warmth. It must have been a good spot, because when he woke up, the sun was almost all the way up and all traces of anyone else were gone. Stiles shivered, untangled his arms from his backpack, and stretched. He knew where the closest public bathroom was in the park, and he went there, brushed his teeth and tried to smooth out his hair. He gave up on that one easily. He was walking through the park, thinking about getting to the shelter early to take a shower, when someone whizzed past him, running. He got a momentary shock and then realized he was on one of the popular running paths. He looked down the lane to see if anyone else was coming.

And there was Derek. Derek was coming towards him, jogging. Stiles reacted instantly, reeling backwards, kind of tripping and then hiding behind a bush. Once he regained stable breathing, he peeked his head out, watched him come closer. God, he looked good. All perspiration, steady breathing, tight legs, moving lightly and smoothly, like he was floating on a cloud instead of running. He slowed down, and Stiles panicked until he realized he was going for the water fountain on the other side of the path. Derek leaned over, which also wasn’t a bad thing to look at, wiped his mouth, took a deep breath, and then started running again.

Stiles relaxed, felt good about not being seen. After the relief faded, he felt worse. After all, Derek had come to the park to jog. Stiles had slept here. The divide between them was too big. Stiles was probably just being stupid anyway. There had probably been no moments between them, flirtatious or otherwise. It was strictly a shelter cook to shelter inhabitant relationship. He planned on keeping it that way. He was just gonna get himself hurt if he forgot that.

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“Oh my god, is that real turkey?” Stiles stifled a gasp. They never served real meat, and Thanksgiving had never been an exception.

“Yep,” Joe said, holding out two beautiful pieces of carved turkey and placing them on the tray. “Gravy?”

“Oh, you want to get the gravy,” a familiar voice said. Derek came up behind Joe with a new plate of turkey. Derek looked at Stiles and smiled. “It’s real,” he almost whispered, leaned a little closer, like it was a secret, “I wouldn’t let Deaton get the canned stuff.”

Stiles smiled back. Goddammit, he didn’t want to smile back. But in the face of Derek’s bright smile, he couldn’t stop himself. “Okay, gravy then.”

“Hi Stiles, good to see you.” Derek said, “Haven’t seen you around lately.”

“Oh, well, you know,” Stiles couldn’t say, well, you know, I’m totally terrified of you and developing some more ridiculous feelings so I’ve been going to the shelter on 51st street instead and it’s horrible and no one cooks as good as you and their washers don’t spin out well enough so you always have to do a second dry cycle, and I really missed your stupid face. Instead he said “I get around.” Smooth, Stiles. Make yourself sound like a hooker. “Oh, I didn’t…”

“Hey, move it along, Stilinski! Quit flirting! We’re hungry!” Someone shouted from down the line.

“Well, before I test if this can get even more embarrassing, I’m going to go now,” and he promptly left the line to sit in the corner and eat the most amazing Thanksgiving meal he’d had since his dad died.

The TV in the shelter said it was going to snow that night, which essentially meant an end to Stiles’ sleeping outdoors. His options became limited to sleeping on the actual subway train, sleeping in one of the subway stations, or actually staying in the shelter. He decided he’d just suck it up and stay at the shelter tonight. However, at that moment, there were too many people there for dinner. Thanksgiving was a time everyone came for the meal, and word must have gotten out about the turkey, because there was still a line out the door. Stiles would just come back later.

He walked around the neighborhood for a long time, doing the loop he was used to, three blocks up, two avenues over, then three blocks back. Go into the Barnes and Nobles for 25 minutes, go back out. Three blocks up, one avenue over, four streets back, go into the convenience store for ten minutes, then leave. One avenue over, two blocks up, and he was in front of Derek’s garden. It was long dark by then. He had made walking by the garden a new part of his route, but he never stayed long enough to see anyone. But that night, no one was around, and he let himself linger. There was a faint glow from one of the small broken down greenhouses, like someone had left a lantern lit in there or something. Stiles wondered momentarily about going in there to shut it off when the door suddenly swung open and he couldn’t contain jumping a little out of his skin and saying something that sounded like “Oh, garwd!”

And of course, it was Derek. “Hello? Is someone there?” And of course, he was in front of Stiles before Stiles could duck away this time. “Stiles? What are you doing here?”

Stiles let out a nervous laugh. “Oh, just taking my nightly stroll. You know. It’s a thing. I do. Sometimes.”

Derek looked really nice cold. His breath came out in small clouds and he had a blue scarf wrapped around his neck and a nice button up suede jacket. Stiles was trying not to stare, and trying not to remember that he was still wearing the same red zip up hoodie he always wore, a ratty hat and someone else’s gloves.

“Well,” Stiles finally said, “I better get going, don’t want to miss the cut off for the shelter.”

“Isn’t it at nine?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said. “So I’ll see you aroun-“

“It’s five after already.” Derek sounded genuinely confused.

And dammit, Stiles really had lost track of time. The last thing he had wanted to do was to go back to the overcrowded shelter, but he was going to. Now he lost his chance.

“Oh. Well… no big deal. I’ll be fine.” Just then it started to snow.

They both looked up. Stiles laughed incredulously. When he looked back to Derek, he was smiling, blinking snowflakes out of his eyelashes.

“This is just ridiculous, I have to go.”

He started to turn to walk away, but Derek stopped him with a light touch on his arm. “Stiles, wait. I can’t let you stay out all night in this. It’s freezing, your nose is already red.” Derek actually reached out and touched his nose. Stiles’ breath caught.

“No, I can’t. I mean, thank you for the offer, but I can’t.”

Derek frowned. “I swear I’m not a serial killer or a hoarder or anything.”

“It’s not that,” Stiles couldn’t even look at him.

“Then what is it? Please, just tell me. Why are you scared of me?”

“I’m scared of you because I like… I mean, I… I keep getting distracted by the snowflakes in your eyelashes!”

“What?”

“You’re so stupidly beautiful, and nice. I mean, you care about the quality of the food at the shelter, and you grow vegetables with troubled teens and you touch my nose.”

Derek was smiling, almost maybe blushing, “Yeah, and is that a problem?”

“Yes! Yes! It’s a huge problem! Because you are so unattainable for me and I just want to… attain you.”

Derek snorted. “Attain me?”

"Everything that comes out my mouth in a five foot range of you is embarrassing. So, I’m going to go now. Please just let me die in the snow. That would be better than this conversation.”

“Wait!” Derek’s hand on his arm again. “Please, I promise, no more conversation. Just come to my place, sleep on my couch. Drink some hot chocolate.”

Stiles hesitated. “No conversation?”

“Total silence. Like we’re in a silent movie, but quieter, because there will be no placards in-between scenes.”

“All right,” Stiles said, even against his instinct. Which was telling him to run, to go sleep on the subway platform where he would probably be more comfortable. “But if there are pictures of you going on a mission trip to Africa with the First Lady to build a waterway or something I’m leaving.”

“I’ll just turn those over before you see them,” Stiles actually reached out to Derek and nudged his shoulder in response to that. Derek smiled. “My car’s this way.”

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Derek kept his word and stayed quiet. His apartment wasn’t that far away, and Stiles took a breath, about to ask him why he drove in the city, when he remembered he was supposed to be being silent.

Derek looked over at him and quirked an eyebrow, as if to ask if was going to say something.

Stiles shook his head, make the universal zip the lip gesture and smiled.

Derek lived in a brownstone, a beautiful old restored two story home along a street filled with almost exact replicas of each other. Stiles’ heart tugged a little. When he first moved to New York, he used to walk down streets like this and wish he could live in these beautiful homes. That was before he air quote ‘decided’ he would just be homeless and be free and stopped looking and wanting altogether. Something about watching Derek unlocking the door for him was cutting through the denial of it all. He got uncomfortable for a moment, started bouncing a little. Derek looked at him sharply, raised his eyebrows in concern. Stiles nodded that he was okay, and they went inside.

The inside of this house was more beautiful than Stiles could have dreamed of. And man, he was going to have to stop using the word beautiful. Note to self; find more manly ways to describe things. Everything was dark wood, high ceiling, gorgeous original staircase, hardwood floors, sparse but homey decorations and furniture. Derek indicated the room directly to the left and then disappeared down the hallway. The room was a living room, with a comfortable looking couch and a television. Stiles put his backpack down, took his hoodie, his gloves and his hat off. He sat on the couch.

Oh, that was nice. Soft. Derek walked in just then, all outerwear off too, and handed him a pillow, two blankets and what looked like sweatpants and a t-shirt. Stiles opened his mouth to object but Derek made stern eyebrows at him and put a finger to his own lips to remind him of silence. For real though, Derek didn’t even need words, his eyebrows had already conveyed more than needed since they started this.

Stiles took the clothes and went to the bathroom. He brushed his teeth, washed his hands and face and got changed. The clothes were soft. So very very soft. And they smelled like fancy detergent, not the cheapest kind available like they had at the shelter. When he got back in the room, Derek was just putting down a mug on the coffee table. He looked up at him, seemingly raked his eyes over Stiles wearing his clothes, smiled and then looked away.

Derek looked around the room and raised his eyebrows at Stiles as if to ask if everything was okay for him. Stiles nodded yes. Derek pointed to the tv. Stiles shook his head no. Derek pointed to himself and then to the upstairs. Stiles nodded once for understanding, and Derek walked around him, brushing their shoulders together briefly before going up the stairs.

Stiles took two sips of his hot chocolate, moaned in satisfaction, got his couch-bed made up, laid down and promptly fell asleep.

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When Stiles woke up, it was full on daylight. The clock on the wall said it was almost ten. He hadn’t slept 12 hours in a million years. There was a handwritten note on the table. It said: “Sorry to break the silence but I’m not there so it doesn’t really count. Had to go to work and didn’t want to wake you. Stay as long as you like or go whenever you like. The door will lock automatically behind you. Help yourself to anything in the kitchen. Find me again if you need me.”

“God, Derek! You can’t just say things like that!” He said to the empty room.

Stiles avoided the shelter for two days. He tried sleeping on the subway, but the seats were too hard suddenly. The robotic drone of the conductor’s voice that once lulled him to sleep annoyed him now. He tried sleeping on the bench in the subway station at 34th street, which was usually his favorite spot, but now a draft he never noticed came from the stairs and made his nose cold.

By that Sunday, it had been three days and three nights of hardly any sleep. Stiles could tell by the line of people and the smell of real bacon that Derek was probably there. He went around the building and sat on the dumpster and waited. After about an hour, Derek finally came out the back door with the trash.

“You’ve destroyed me.” Stiles said.

Derek smiled at seeing Stiles then his face fell into confusion when he registered the words he said.

“What?”

“You’ve totally ruined me. You have destroyed my ability to survive.”

Derek kind of laughed but looked concerned. Stiles hopped off the dumpster, opened it for Derek and then continued.

“For the past two years, I haven’t slept in anyone’s house. I haven’t had a couch, or a fresh pair of wonderful smelling pajamas, or a nighttime hot beverage. And I’ve been fine. I could sleep on the ground, in a cot in a room with twenty five other people, in the park, or under a bridge, or in the subway!”

“The subway? Really?” Derek asked.

“Not the point! The point is now I can’t. I haven’t slept! I have lost my ability to live in the city-wild-proper. And it’s your fault.”

Derek shrugged. “So come back.”

“What?”

“Come back tonight.”

“I can’t just…what?”

“Just for tonight, just to catch up on sleep. And then maybe you’ll get your wild-life abilities back.”

It made absolutely no sense, but it was so tempting. Stiles thought about it for a moment. “Will there be hot chocolate?”

Derek smiled. “That depends. Can we talk?”

“God, yes. That was torture for me. I had so many questions!”

“Then come over at 7.”

“Ok,” Stiles said. He really hadn’t been meaning for the conversation to go this way. He had best-case scenario thought accusing Derek of ruining him would make for some witty banter and flirting, even though he knew he shouldn’t. But it was like a magnetic draw. He couldn’t stay away.

“So, do you want the breakfast I put aside for you?”

“God, yes,” Stiles said, and followed Derek into the kitchen.

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When Stiles showed up at seven, Derek was cooking. Honest to god, cooking, with like three pots and five pans or something, Stiles didn’t know what was going on. At one point, Derek handed him a beer. Then he also handed him something and told him to stir it. It looked yellow and weird, but Stiles stirred it anyway. After a while, Derek asked Stiles to get the plates, and then started piling on food when he put them on the counter. They took their plates to the living room and Derek reached to turn on the television. He paused, looked unsure.

“Hey, I want to ask you something that might insult you. Is that ok?”

Stiles huffed a laugh. “Um, okay.”

“I’m sure when you don’t have a home, there are lots of things you can do that people with all the baggage of home can’t…”  

And… what? Did Derek know his life philosophy or something?

 “But,” he continued. “I’m sure there’s some things you can’t do, one of them being keep up with television shows.”

“I would agree to that without being insulted. What television show are we speaking about?”

“You said earlier you’ve been out… there for two years and I was just wondering if you’ve seen The Walking Dead?”

“No, man, don’t even know what it is.”

Derek looked far too excited. “Seriously? Do you mind if we watch it? Do you like zombies? Oh wait, we are eating. Do you get squeamish easily? Because it goes pretty fast to sliced-in-half-zombie-pulling-itself-along-the-ground territory.”

Stiles laughed. “Let’s watch it. I’m cool with gory.” He took a bite of his food. “Oh, my god, this is amazing. What is this?”

“What you just tried is chicken marsala. My dad’s recipe.” Derek smiled proudly.

Stiles took another bite. “Oh, that’s good. So good. I want to call him up and tell him how good this is.”

Derek’s smile faltered for a moment and he looked down. “I wish.”

Stiles froze. Dammit. They should have stuck to no talking.

But Derek looked back up quickly. “Ok, are you ready for this?” And he pointed the remote at the television to start the first episode.

Stiles ate everything on his plate and fell asleep during the third episode. When he woke up, Derek was gone and there was another note. “I paused it right about when you fell asleep so we can pick it up again whenever you have time. I am usually home by seven, or you can call me.” There was a number scrawled along the bottom and then the letter “D.”

****************************************************************************************

Stiles stayed away for another two nights. Then he went to the garden. He saw Isaac, carrying what looked like a basket of cabbage out of the greenhouse.

“Stiles, good to see you again, man. Derek was worried he had scared you away.”

Stiles was shocked. “Derek talks about me?”

Isaac laughed, “You have no idea, do you?”

Just then Derek walked out of the shed, a wheelbarrow full of dirt. “Stiles.”

"Hey, Derek.” And like he couldn’t help it, his stupid face broke out in an embarrassing smile. “Just walking by. Thought I’d say hey.”

Isaac rolled his eyes and then left.

“Come by again tonight? You haven’t even met my favorite character yet.”

“Yeah, sure. What time?”

“Well, I’ve got to do some planting and then..”

Stiles interrupted. “I could help. That way it would go faster.”

“Yeah, sure.”

They worked together quietly, focused, replacing a large amount of dirt in the planters of the greenhouse. It took almost an hour, and they both ended up fairly dirty. Then they drove in Derek’s car to his house. “Hey, so I meant to ask you; why do you drive? It’s not very far, and right on a subway line too.”

“It’s usually frowned upon to bring 10 bags of dirt onto the subway. I need my car for supplies.”

They parked and went inside.

"You can have the shower first,” Derek said, “I’ll get you a change of clothes.”

“Derek, that’s not necessary. I actually still have the ones you gave me that first time.”

But Derek was already disappearing up the stairs. “Keep them! They’re all a little small on me anyway.”

“What are you saying about my physique?!” Stiles called up the stairs.

Derek came back down with a set of clothes and a towel and handed them to Stiles. He looked Stiles up and down. “Nothing bad, I swear. Just, I used to play baseball in college and I was a lot leaner. Like you.” He took a deep breath, seemed to blush a little. “Anyway, shower is in the bathroom upstairs, first door on the left. I’ll get dinner started then I’ll go next.”

Stiles walked up the stairs in Derek’s house and paused at the top of the stairs. He could hear Derek clanking around things in the kitchen already. Why in the world did Derek trust him so much? To leave him alone in his house so much? And now letting him upstairs near his personal bedroom and all his things? Stiles had never stolen anything in his life, but Derek didn’t know that. Stiles resisted looking into Derek’s bedroom, where the door was only cracked open, and went into the bathroom. He took a shower, it felt oddly intimate to use Derek’s shower and see all his personal care products. Stiles used his own, wasn’t sure if he could use Derek’s. But this was Derek’s shower. The place he was naked in everyday. God, maybe sometimes he even jacked off in there, maybe he should stop thinking. Yes, best plan. Stop thinking.

When he got back downstairs, Derek was just closing the oven. “I put together a lasagna. It will take about an hour. I’ll be right back, and then we can start the episode again. Um, get a beer or something if you want. Just hang out, it will only be a minute.”

Stiles did get a beer, then he looked around the kitchen a while. There was a list of groceries to get on the refrigerator and a picture of a beautiful woman next to Derek. He knew Derek was single, not a trace of a girl product in the bathroom. So maybe a sister? Stiles moved on and saw knick knacks on a small shelf, a thimble, a spoon from the statue of liberty, a small heart locket with no chain. He opened it; one side had a picture of a man and the other one a woman. They were beautiful, and Stiles guessed they were Derek’s parents just by the looks of them. He could see Derek’s eyes in the man and his smile in the woman. He put it down, felt like he was snooping so he quietly sat on the couch until Derek came back in.

When Stiles feel asleep that night, he must have leaned over onto Derek, because he woke up against him, with Derek’s arm loosely around his side. His own arm was laid over Derek’s stomach and he took a moment to enjoy the feeling of Derek’s steady breath and his solid presence before he sat up a little. He didn’t move totally away and Derek didn’t move his arm.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep on you. I hope there was not a drooling situation.” Stiles wiped a hand over where his head had been lying on Derek’s chest and wow, that was solid too. “I didn’t mean to get all cozy with you.”

Derek moved his arm then, slowly moved it up Stiles’ arm, over his shoulder and cupped the side of his face. “It’s okay, really. I don’t mind.”

Derek smiled. “Okay. I better let you get some sleep.” And then he was gone.

Stiles thought he would never get to sleep, but as soon as he laid down, he realized he could smell Derek on that side of the couch still. He breathed in deeply, smiled, and dozed off immediately.

******************************************************************************************

The next three days, Stiles ate every meal at the shelter. He could always tell when Derek was cooking, would sit closet to the kitchen as possible, and watch for him to peer out of the kitchen, smile at him. Then he would smile back and nod, sometimes give a thumbs up for the food, and then feel ridiculous for making a thumbs up.

The third day, he had dinner at the shelter, he didn’t see Derek come out of the kitchen, but he was sure he had been cooking. It was the same lasagna he had made for him the other night. He waited outside in the back for Derek, but he didn’t come out. It was December by then, and after an hour and a half, Stiles’ butt was frozen to the dumpster, so he went back into the shelter.

“Hey Dr. D, where’s Derek?”

Deaton was in his office, shuffling some papers. “He’s not here, Stiles.”

“What do you mean? I know that was his lasagna.”

Deaton’s eyebrows went up and he gave Stiles an accusing look. “He made them earlier. Today’s a hard day for him.”

“What do you mean, a hard day? Why? What happened?”

Deaton got up, opened a filing cabinet. “Not my story to tell.”

“Sometimes you’re not very helpful, Dr. D.”

Stiles went to the garden and walked into the greenhouse. Isaac was lifting a bag of something. “Hey Isaac, do you know where Derek is?”

“Sorry, man. I’d really like to know myself. He was supposed to help me plant these when they came in. I’ve been calling his phone all day.”

“Huh. Deaton said something about it being a hard day for him. Do you know what that might mean?”

Isaac paused. “Oh. Well, shit. I didn’t realize what day it was.” Isaac shook his head and then continued moving the bag. “Yeah, it’s a hard day for him.”

“Okay, and what exactly does that mean?” Stiles was starting to get a little annoyed. He just wanted to know what was going on and if Derek was okay.

“It’s the anniversary of his family’s death.”

“Family?” Stiles asked. “As in his whole family?”

“Yeah, pretty much. I think a few people survived the house fire, but I’m not sure who exactly. And I think a few of the survivors died too, more recently.”

“Well, that’s horrendous.”

Isaac stopped working again, looked at Stiles intently. “Look, Stiles. I think it’s great that you two are… whatever is it you’re doing. He’s been in a great mood since he met you and all, but he’s got some baggage. Some trauma. Lots of trauma. Not too sure you want to be involved in all that.”

Stiles laughed. Did Isaac really think he was the more stable of them? “I’m kind of familiar with some trauma myself. Thanks Isaac.”

******************************************************************************

Stiles stood outside of Derek’s house for a really long time. He walked halfway up the stairs three times, and then went back down. He walked all the way up to the front door and then counted to a hundred and then knocked. If he could count to a hundred again before Derek answered the door, he would just leave and-

The door swung open. “Stiles,” Derek said. He looked horrible. His face was puffy and his hair was all over and he wasn’t making good eye contact and he wasn’t smiling. “Hey, I’m not really up for walking dead tonight, can we do it-“

“I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Derek leaned against the doorway. “I’m-“ It looked like he was about to say he was okay, but then his resolved melted. His face scrunched up and he buried his face in his arm. “I’m… having a hard day.”

“That’s the word on the street. Hey look, I can come in if you want. Just to… whatever. No zombies. But I can go if that’s better, too. Whatever is better for you.”

Derek moved out of the way of the door. “It would be better if you came in.” He ran a hand through his hair. “As long as you don’t mind that I’m a mess.”

Stiles walked inside. He hung up his hat, stuffed his gloves in his hoodie, hung that up too, and then turned and picked up Derek’s hand.

“I don’t have anything for dinner for you.”

“You already made me dinner. I ate it at the shelter. It was delicious.”

Derek squeezed his hand.

“Although, it did taste better when it was just for me.”

Derek smiled sadly.

“Derek, tell me. What do you need?”

Derek looked towards the stairs, hesitated. “Just help me relax? Help me go to sleep maybe?”

Stiles pointed to the stairs in question and Derek nodded. Stiles led him up the stairs, walked into the room he assumed was Derek’s room, kicked his shoes off and pulled Derek to sit. He moved the pillows around and straightened up the blankets, which looked like it had been twisted up in an attempt to get comfortable. He laid down and guided Derek to lay down next to him. Derek curled up away from Stiles and Stiles molded himself behind him. He put an arm around him and Derek grasped his hand.

“Sometimes I still can’t believe it’s possible. It’s been over ten years and I still can’t believe they’re gone. It’s just not possible.”

Stiles shifted closer. “I know.”

“What about your parents?”

Stiles sighed. “They’re both dead. My mom when I was a kid, and my dad two years ago.”

Derek shuffled. “Sucks, huh?”

Stiles laughed. He was used to people telling him they were sorry. He was used to people giving him a sad face and patting his shoulder. “Yeah, it really does.” They were both quiet for a moment. “Hey, what’s the craziest thought you ever had?”

“What?”

Stiles leaned back, away from Derek’s back and Derek turned, facing him. Stiles untangled their hands, put the left one above his head, then grasped Derek’s hand with the other one, held it between them on the bed. “You know, when your family died. What’s the craziest thought you had that you never told anyone.”

Derek thought for a moment. “I used to look at everyone around me and wish they were dead instead.”

“Had that one.” Stiles said immediately.

Derek hit him on the stomach. “No way.”

“Really!”

“Ok,” Derek said, “Tell me one of yours.”

“Hmmm. I wished I had died instead.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Had it. Talked about it in therapy. Still think it everyday. You can do better than that.”

Stiles smiled. “Fine, fine. I’ve thought so hard about what happens after we die and wanted to know so badly, that I seriously considered killing myself, purely for scientific research.”

Derek tried not to laugh.

“What?” Stiles said, mock-insulted.

Derek snorted, turned, buried his head in the pillow and shook with laughter.

"I cannot believe you are making fun of my most upsetting thoughts.”

“But whaf would you half daw?” Came muffled from the pillow.

“What?”

“But what would have done?” Derek raised his head. “After you figured out what happened? You’d be dead, the knowledge would be of no use, because you are no longer alive.”

“Well, obviously, the plan wasn’t perfect. Which is why I’m still here.”

Derek let out a deep sigh, put a hand on the side of Stiles face. “That is a horrible plan. Never do it, ok”

“Okay.”

Derek burrowed into Stiles’ side, closing his eyes. “Stiles?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for coming over.”

“Always. Anytime you want me.”

Derek was quiet for a few moments, then answered, “Always.”

******************************************************************

The next morning, Derek was gone, and there was a note on Derek’s pillow that said “Pancakes at the shelter. I’ll save you some.”

He smiled.

******************************************************************

It went on for a while, about every three days, they would find each other. Either Stiles would wait for Derek outside the shelter, or ‘run into him’ walking past the garden. A few times, if it got to day four, Stiles just showed up at his door.

Sometime when they were starting season two, Stiles was digging through his backpack and three t-shirts fell out.

“You could leave some stuff here.”

Stiles stopped what he was doing and said something like “Huh?”

“Here, I’ll show you.” Derek, without warning, simply picked up the shirts and walked out of the room.

Stiles stumbled for a minute over words he couldn’t form and then followed. Derek led him to a room, past the downstairs bathroom and through a door Stiles had never been through. It looked like a spare room, it contained a dresser, a side table with a lamp and a bed. Stiles’ attention went to Derek, who was folding his shirts and putting them in the dresser. He looked a little nervous.

“Um, you could even use this bed, you know.” Derek looked at the bed, seemed to be trying not to look at Stiles. “You know, for when you stay over.” Derek looked a little panicked then. They had never really talked about him staying over, it just always happened. “Like, instead of sleeping on the couch after we can’t stay awake any longer, you could come in here. And sleep in the bed.” Finally, he turned to Stiles. “But only if you want. You don’t have to. ”

Stiles tried to make sure he didn’t look terrified but he wasn’t sure if he was succeeding. He ran his hands through his hair and tried to take a deep breath. He realized that he couldn’t; that his breath was coming in short spurts. He opened his mouth and tried to talk, but nothing came out.

“Stiles? Are you ok?”

He shook his head and back out of the room, walked quickly to the living room, then moved to the front door. He put his hand on the door handle and then stopped himself. He could leave if he wanted to. Derek wouldn’t stop him. He wasn’t trapped. He didn’t live here. He took a deep breath.

“Can we stay in the living room for a little while?”

“Sure, sure,” Derek said. They made their way into the living room, sat on the couch. “I’m really sorry.”

“No, it’s ok. Maybe for a little while, my shirts can stay in that bedroom without me.”

Derek smiled. “Yeah, I’m sure they’ll be okay with that.”

Stiles laughed, tried for a joke. “Yeah, don’t let them forget about me.”

“I’ll tell them stories everyday,” Derek said, but there was still some tension.

“Look, I…” Stiles flopped back on the couch and looked at Derek. “I’ve been living the way I do for a while now, and I’m used to it. Thank you for the offer, and I really do appreciate it.” He looked away, fidgeted with one of the pillows on the couch, then made himself look back at Derek. “Just don’t be insulted if it takes me a while to be okay with that. I don’t do well with change anymore”

“You don’t ever have to be okay with it. I am fine with how things are. Nothing has to change. I like how things are now.”

“Yeah?”

“Absolutely,“ Derek said. “But, you will definitely not be okay with what is about to happen on the show.”

Stiles smiled, relaxed and let himself get lost in the world of zombies.

Stiles fell asleep on the couch, woke up slightly when Derek turned off the TV and covered him with a blanket. Derek hesitated for a moment by the door, and then Stiles heard him go upstairs.

***************************************************************************

Stiles was helping Isaac dig up radishes in the greenhouse. It was cold, but it was warmer in the greenhouse than anywhere else Stiles had to be at the moment.

“So Isaac, why in the world are you guys still growing things the week before Christmas?”

“Stiles, we’re not growing things. We’re digging them up. They are done growing. Besides, we don’t grow them. They do all the growing themselves.”

Stiles tried to summon Derek and communicate with annoyance with his eyebrows.

Isaac laughed. “It keeps me and some of the other kids out of trouble. Idle hands and all that. If there’s something going on here, it’s like, we have a place to go. Like, a home base.”

Stiles nodded and put another radish in the basket.    

Isaac continued. “I mean, I’m sure it’s like that for you now, with Derek. When I was staying with Derek, I would go out but then I knew I had a place to go. I’m sure it’s the same for you.”

Stiles froze. Of course. Derek had helped Isaac when he was homeless. Just like he was helping Stiles. Helping Stiles because he felt bad for him. Because he was homeless. No other reason. There was nothing else there.

“Hey, look. I just remembered I’ve got a thing I have to go to. So, I’m just gonna go.”

God, he had been so stupid. He had to get out of there. He wiped his hands on his pants, picked up his backpack and was out of the door before he could hear Isaac’s whole sentence of “Stiles! Wait, th-“

*************************************************************************

The great thing about New York City was that it was big. You could avoid someone forever. A neighborhood, a subway line, a shelter and a garden. A certain stretch of restored brownstones. It was easy. Just stop being there.

Stiles went to a different part of Manhattan, found a different shelter, and after two weeks, had made a new loop of stores to go into to stay warm when it got bad. This new loop even included a comic book store and a record store, so it might even be considered a good change. If Stiles liked change, which he didn’t. He missed the barnes and nobles on 14th street. He knew where all the sections were, where all the best seats were and which employees would hassle him after a few hours and which wouldn’t.

He missed Christmas. Not missed it in the sense of not being at home, because he had no home. He just didn’t pay any attention. There were displays in the stores and music on the radio, but it had been that way for over a month. It simply continued until one day it was over. He did the same with New Year’s Eve. Sometimes holidays were better if you just missed them.

He wasn’t expecting to see Suzy outside the A train panhandling, where he had found a nice replacement bench for naps. He stood back for a minute until he noticed her. “Hey, don’t I know you?” she said.

“Yeah, one of the shelters on the other side of the park. I think it was your first night.”

She smiled. “Oh yeah, I remember. You stayed awake. That was nice.” She blew out a harsh breath of air. “Man, it feels like forever ago, doesn’t it? I feel like it was a different lifetime.”

“Yeah. Hey, I wanted to tell you that you don’t have to panhandle.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Well, I know this okay shelter down the street, it serves hot meals every night, and then two blocks over, there’s a place that leaves its day old bagels out in a separate bag specifically for-“

"Hey,” Suzy said. “You know I’m not looking for money to buy food, right? I mean, you can’t be that dense, can you?”

Stiles laughed. “Oh. Okay. Actually, yeah. I guess I’m pretty easily fooled a lot.”

“Yeah, well, no offense, but you’re kind of cramping my style and stopping the donations, so I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Yeah, okay. See you later Suzy.”

Three hours later, Stiles was sitting on the steps of that shelter when Suzy came stumbling up. Obviously high.

“Hey!!! There you are! There’s the guy with the food! He knows all about the food. So hey, I’m ready for the food.”

Stiles shook his head sadly. “They stopped serving two hours ago.”

Suzy flopped down on the step next to him. “That’s okay,” she said. “I wasn’t hungry anyway. Just had my fill of something else, if you know what I mean.”

Stiles tried to lean away. “Yeah, I got it.” He looked back at the shelter, which was already closed for the night. “Look, Suzy, do you have a place to stay warm tonight, because I know of a hotel five blocks over that doesn’t lock the back-“

“Oh shit!” Suzy yelled, standing up and pointing at two men coming down the sidewalk towards them quickly. “Those are the guys with the drugs.”

“What do you mean? The guys you bought the drugs from?”

“Well,” Suzy continued. “Well, I didn’t so much buy them as steal them.”

“What?!” Stiles stood, watched the guys stalk down the sidewalk. They looked huge, and scary and they were both looking at Suzy with anger in their eyes.

Stiles stood up. “Run,” he said, and stood in their way as he heard Suzy’s footsteps behind him.

When they came face to face with Stiles, one of them said “She ain’t worth defending.” And the other said “Tell us where she went.” Then the first one said “Or we’ll take her debt out on you.”

“Do it then.”

Stiles had never been beat up before. Sure, some rough tackles in lacrosse, a baseball to the face once or twice in practice. But no one had ever touched Stiles with the express purpose to hurt him. He had thought maybe it wouldn’t be that bad. But it was bad. And he felt every hit. First, it was a punch to the face, then one to his stomach that caused him to double over, then he knew there was kicking, but he lost count. He stopped trying to tighten up where he thought the next blow would come, he was never right and it never helped. He stopped trying to remember why someone would want to hurt him. He stopped thinking all together. Everything went black.

******************************************************************************

When Stiles woke up, his whole body was being jostled and everything hurt. He tensed up immediately and tried to pull away.

“It’s okay. It’s me. I’ve got you. Just relax.”

Stiles’ brain still wasn’t functioning on all cylinders but he knew that voice. It sounded like safety and home. It felt like his dad picking him up from a rainy baseball practice. It felt like sitting with his Mom in a blanket fort on a stormy night. He relaxed. He felt someone putting his arms underneath him and lifting him up. Instinctively, he wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck tightly.

“Derek.”

“Yeah, buddy, it’s me.”

It felt like they were walking. Oh god, was Derek carrying him? “Ugh, don’t call me buddy. My Dad used to call me buddy.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s just…” Why were they walking? They were too far away for Derek to carry him back to the house. “It’s just… I think about you in dirty ways. Not father ways.” He sighed. “I think they broke my brain filter.”

Then Derek stopped, placed him in the open door of a… cab? Was he gonna just send him away somewhere…? He latched on tightly in desperation and opened his eyes for the first time to lock eyes with Derek. God, he looked good. It was dark, and he was out of breath, and his face looked worried, but kind. There was lights all around him from the city. There was honking from somewhere far away. But Derek was looking at him. And he looked amazing. And he couldn’t let go of his arms.

“It’s okay,” Derek said. “I’m just coming around the other side. You can let go.”

“Does the cab driver know that I can let you go?”

“What?”

“He knows not to drive away?” Stiles knew he sounded ridiculous, but he didn’t care. He hurt all over. He realized he wasn’t actually fully opening one of his eyes. He just knew he didn’t want to go anywhere without Derek.

"Actually, it’s my friend Boyd. And he’s driving my car. So he’s really not going to be driving away without me.”

Stiles let go. He tracked Derek all the way around the car the best he could. He got in the other side as promised and Stiles grabbed on to his arm with both of his hands.

“Okay?” Derek asked.

“Okay,” Stiles said, and promptly passed out again.

******************************************************************************************

The next time Stiles woke up, he was in a bed in a room with a guy he’s never seen before. He didn’t freak out, though, because the next thing he saw was a dresser he definitely recognized and realized he was in Derek’s guest room.

“Hey,” He said to the guy in the chair reading a book.

“Hey,” The guy said back. “I’m Boyd. Derek’s at work. He told me when you wake up, I’m supposed to make you take those ibuprofen,” He pointed to the night stand with some pills on it and a glass of water. “And then to tell you to...” Boyd sighed and rolled his eyes, as if he really didn’t want to say the next part. “Tell you that he really wants you to stay and if you don’t want to stay in the bed, I’m to carry you into the living room.”

Stiles smiled. “I’m okay here.”

"Want anything to eat?”

Stiles wrinkled his nose. “Not yet. Still kind of feel like I’m gonna hurl, you know?”

Boyd nodded, went back to his book.

“Hey, thanks for the ride last night, or whenever it was. I have no concept of time right now. But anyway, thanks for coming with Derek to find me. I’m sure you guys were out doing something fun or something, and had to stop by to get me. Which, by the way, how did you know where to come get me?

Boyd scoffed. “Isaac said you were clueless. But I had no idea. We weren’t out.” And then he got up and left the room.

Stiles had no idea what that meant.

He must have dozed off after taking his pills because he woke up again, and the room was darker. He heard Boyd and Derek talking, hushed but stern tones in the hallway.

“You need to tell him.” Boyd said

"I know… I just. I can’t yet. What if he doesn’t…”

“Then it won’t hurt as much if he knows now.”

“Look, just. Thanks for sitting with him.”

He heard Boyd leave out the front door and Derek start messing around in the kitchen.

Stiles considered just staying in bed until Derek came back in but he had to pee more than any other consideration right then. He managed to pull himself out of bed and get to the edge of the door before Derek was there.

“Hey, you okay?”

He leaned against the door frame, out of breath. “Yeah, just need to use the restroom.”

“Oh, maybe I should…”

He huffed, and started taking the few steps to the next door, which was the bathroom. “Derek, I think I should probably do that one on my…” Then stopped in his tracks as he caught sight of his face in the mirror. “Holy hell.” The whole left side of his face was a bruise, his eye was swollen and his lip split. He started shaking.

“Hey, hey,” Derek said, coming up behind him and putting a hand on both arms. He turned him around and helped him sit on the closed toilet.

They sat in silence for a moment until Stiles got his breathing under control. “That was really bad, wasn’t it?”

“It was a really bad situation, Stiles. When I saw you lying there, I thought for a second..”

“How did you even know to come?”

“Suzy ran all the way I think, to the shelter. I was there. Looking for you.” Their eyes locked for a minute, then Derek looked away. “Um, at first she was just freaking out, unreasonable. I finally got her to explain what was happening. She said you were facing down the drug dealers she just stole from and she told me the neighborhood you guys were in. I called my friend Boyd. He’s the most intimidating looking guy I know.” He laughed. “Soft and sweet as a teddy bear. But... anyway. We drove around for a while, until we found you. Sorry it took us a while.”

“Oh, well, the bright side is I was unconscious and had no concept of time.” He laughed, then groaned, holding his side.

“Hey, look,” Derek said. “Do you need to go to the hospital? I wanted to take you but Boyd convinced me to wait. He said if you had any warrants or anything… you’d be pissed at me.”

“No,” Stiles said. “No warrants. Just, don’t like hospitals much. I think I just need to pee, maybe a shower. And then, maybe… pancakes?”

“Yeah, sure. I’ll go get you some clothes and leave them on the sink. There’s some small guest soap and shampoo in that shower if that’s okay.”

“Yeah. It’s fine.”

Derek left the room. Stiles relieved himself, and undressed slowly, trying very hard not to look at his body. He wasn’t ready to see the full extent. One small panic attack from his face alone told him he wasn’t ready to take on the whole of the damage. He washed himself as quickly as possible, turned around to rinse and hissed in pain.

“Stiles?” Derek had just opened the door. He saw the shadow of him through the shower curtain place clothes and a towel on the sink. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Just, I think I might have a cut or something.”

“Do you want me to…?”

“No,” Stiles said quickly. The first time Derek saw him naked wasn’t gonna be covered in cuts and bruises. “Just maybe you could look, after I get out.”

“Yeah, sure,” he said, and walked out again.

Stiles rested his forehead against the shower wall. This was messed up. His mind was racing. What made him think Derek would ever see him naked? Why did he say no so quickly, now if Derek did ever want to see him naked, Stiles made it seem like he didn’t want to be seen. And why is Derek even letting him take a shower and helping him so much anyway? What was Boyd talking about telling him?

He took a steadying breath. Focus. It had been a while since Stiles had to use his skills to get through his bad ADHD moments. But he remembered how to focus on one movement at a time. To remind himself he couldn’t get everything done at once. What were steps one two three? No skipping to step seven. One- finish rinsing off. He leaned back into the spray, wincing at the hurt area, but letting whatever it was wash out a little. Two, turn off shower. Done. Three, dry off. Okay. Now, what are four five six? Four. Put on clothes. Slow going, and Stiles left his pants a little lower than where he thought the cut might be, which seemed to be on the right side of his lower back, radiating down to his hip. Five. Call for Derek.

Crap. Okay. He could do this. He didn’t want Derek to see him vulnerable, to have to help him. But hell, he just carried him away from imminent death, it’s not like he hasn’t already helped him. He had been helping him all along. Which is why he ran away from Derek to begin with? So what if Derek was only interested in helping him like he did with Isaac? He was still a nice guy, right? Just because Stiles had some unrequited crush doesn’t mean that they can never hang out, and that… Focus. Five. Call for Derek.

He cracked the door. “Hey, um. Derek?”

“Yeah?”

“Could you.. um… my back.”

Derek was at the door in a moment. “Yeah, let me look at it. I’ve got the first aid kit.”

Stiles turned around and put his hands on the sink to steady himself. He didn’t lift his head to look in the mirror.

“Where is it?”

Stiles reached one hand back and lifted his shirt. He was waiting for Derek’s reaction, but he didn’t hear one. Just heard the rustle of the first aid kit, flinched when a cool gel hit the area.

“Sorry. Just antibiotic cream.”

He felt the soft gauze pressed against the area, heard the rip of tape, and then felt Derek’s hand pressing around the area, gentle but firm.

“Ok,” he said, throwing things away quickly and shutting the kit. “Um, we should probably change that tomorrow. Will you… do you want to… I think you should stay here, so we can do that.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“Yeah? Okay. I’ve got the next episode ready to go on the tv and pancakes ready for butter and syrup. You need help to the couch?”

“Nah. I can make it.”

**************************************************************************************

“She was in the barn?!?!?!” Stiles pointed at the TV, screaming. “Sophia was in the barn!!!! Holy crap!!” He looked over at Derek, who was smiling. He threw a pillow at him. “I can’t believe you let me wonder! For weeks! Let me watch Daryl Dixon almost die to save her! Let me have hope! I can’t believe you let me have hope that Sophia was alive when she was in the barn this whole time!”

“I’m sorry! I wanted to tell you so bad! It was so hard!” He threw the pillow back at Stiles, who immediately moved to catch it and grimaced in pain. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said, catching his breath, still smiling. He leaned back, let out a sigh and threw his arm over his head. “I can’t believe Sophia was in the barn.”

“Oh crap, I forgot!” Derek shot up from the couch and went into the hallway.

“What?” Stiles asked, confused by the change of subject.

Derek came back in room, looking nervous and a little guilty, holding a letter. “I forgot. While you were… kind of missing from… all of us… this came to the shelter for you.” He held out the letter to Stiles, who reached out slowly for it. “Deaton said sometimes he gets letters for you, and gives them to you when you show up. So I said I’d keep it safe until one of us saw you again. He thought I might see you first. I hope you’re not mad.”

Stiles had been looking at the letter and didn’t really understand why Derek thought he might be mad at him. He knew the handwriting was Scott’s. He didn’t even have to open it to know what it said. He had thrown others out in the past. When he had first come to New York City, he had sent a letter from the shelter and like a stupidly trained monkey, put the return address without thinking. Probably once every other month he got a letter from Scott. Sometimes he read them. Sometimes not. He had never answered one.

“What? No, I’m not mad. It’s just, my friend from back home. Sometimes I can read them, and sometimes I can’t.” He turned it over in his hand a few times. “Maybe one more episode and then I can decide?”

“Sure,” Derek said.

Stiles tried to stretch his left side a little, which was cramping up, then that pulled his cut a little, and he flinched.

“You know,” Derek said. “Maybe we should call it a night. I think you might need to lay down.”

“Ohhh, now that’s not fair. You get me all pumped up with the Sophia’s in the barn episode and you expect me to fall asleep? I’ve got crazy adrenaline running through my veins.”

Derek looked like he was thinking hard for a moment. “Ok, how about we go lay down and watch it in my bed? I can pull in up on my laptop. We can get a bunch of pillows and get you comfortable?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said.

“Yeah? Okay.”

It took some finagling to get Stiles up the stairs. “I can do it myself, Derek!” “Just let me help you a little!” “We can’t both fit up these stairs at the same time Derek!” It took some more to get him comfortable with enough pillows “Wait, one more behind the back. No, too many, take it away. Wait, now not enough. Do you have a smaller one?”

Then, as soon as they were settled, laptop playing the opening scene of the next episode, Stiles got a leg cramp. He tensed all over, shot his leg out, and wailed in pain. Then he wailed in some secondary pain from this other injuries being jostled.

“What? What?” Derek asked, panicked.

He pointed at his right calf. “Cramp. Oh god, cramp. Horrible. Aggggg.”

Derek reached out and grabbed his leg, started rubbing both thumbs firmly down his calf muscle until Stiles said “There! There! Right there!” Derek slowed, rubbing circles around the spasming muscle until it calmed. “Oh god, that hurt. Dear lord.” He threw his head back. “I think I would rather be punched in the face again than have another one of those.” Derek started to pull his hand away. “Don’t stop. Please, don’t stop.”

Derek smiled, put his hands back, started a smooth gentle pressure from both thumbs up and down his calf muscle. They locked eyes and the intensity of the moment, the position, the location, everything. It seemed to settle on them both at once. But Derek wasn’t looking away so Stiles didn’t either.

“I wanted to tell you,” Derek started. “I wanted to tell you that Isaac told me what he said to you that day.” Stiles looked down, breaking the eye contact. He almost didn’t want to hear what was coming next. Maybe believe that whole conversation/ realization didn’t happen. But Stiles stayed silent. “I wanted to tell you that Isaac was wrong. It wasn’t the same thing I did for him. It isn’t the same. With you.” Stiles looked back at Derek’s eyes and the same intensity was there. Sometimes in Stiles’ chest swelled.

“Okay,” Stiles said.

Derek smiled, like ‘okay’ was the greatest answer ever. Derek turned, so he could watch the screen, but he didn’t take his hand off Stiles’ leg.

Stiles fell asleep in Derek’s bed.

Stiles woke up in pain. He couldn’t tell where it was from, just aching all over, uncomfortable in every muscle, and a sharp line of pain in every bone.

“Stiles,” he heard from the darkness. He knew he was in Derek’s bed, but didn’t know where he was. When Stiles opened his eyes, he saw Derek. He was lying down next to him, up on one elbow, face creased with worry. It was dark in the room but the light from the hallway cast enough shadows to see.

“Stiles,” he said again. “Stiles, I want to check you over, if that’s okay. I just want to make sure there’s no other cuts that we need to take care of, or no broken bones.” Stiles felt hazy, like he had woken up in the middle of the night after drinking the day before, that detached twitchy heavy feeling that tells you that your body isn’t ready to be awake, but can’t calm down enough to rest properly. “Stiles, is that okay?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said, and his voice was softer than he thought it would be. “Yes,” he said again, just in case Derek didn’t hear. “It’s okay.”

Derek nodded, sat back in a crouch and put both his hands lightly under Stiles’ shirt. “Tell me if I do anything that hurts you” Derek had the tshirt tucked all the way up under his armpits and ran his hands lightly down his chest and stopped at his stomach. “Tell me if I do anything you don’t want me to do, and I’ll stop.” Stiles watched the rise and fall of Derek’s hands and realized they were moving quickly, which meant his breathing was too fast. Which meant he just realized his breathing was too fast, and of course then it went even faster.

Derek sensed it, shifted closer, leaning down over him. “Stiles, I need you to control your breathing. I know you can do this. You are one hundred percent in control of your own breathing. I need to make sure your chest and lungs are okay. It’s a check. So I need you to do it.” Derek started running his hands diagonally over Stiles’ chest, tracing his rib cage with his fingers. Stiles started matching his breaths to Derek’s fingers beginning and ending on each bone. His breaths slowed.

“Good,” Derek said. “Good job, Stiles.” Derek got to the last rib and let out a sigh, visibly relieved. “Okay. Tell me if anything feels tender.” He started pushing gently on Stiles’ stomach, all around the sides. Stiles inhaled sharply at what felt like a bruise and Derek said “Sorry” quickly and let off.

“Just a bruise, I think,” Stiles said. “Doesn’t hurt worse than a bruise.”

Derek looked at the spot intently. Stiles didn’t know how well he could see it in the dark, but it looked as if Derek was trying to laser eye remove it from him or something. Instead he leaned closer, and pressed his lips to the spot. Stiles gasped, and his body involuntary moved towards the sensation. “God, Stiles. I wish… When I think about what could have happened to you…” He smoothed his hand over the bruise and then moved on to kissing another spot high on Stiles’ hip that must have a bruise as well. “I wish I could take this pain away from you.” Another kiss, lighter, but lingering longer.

“You’re doing a pretty good job of making me forget about it right now,” Stiles said, and then cursed himself for breaking the moment because then Derek stopped.

“Sorry,” he said, and then moved down to his legs. Derek moved the blanket off and then took one of his feet in his hands. He moved his hand over every inch, first smoothing over the skin, then gently tracing each bone. He repeated it to his other foot, then moved up to his calf. A certain spot made Stiles almost laugh in ticklishness, but he stopped himself. He didn’t want to do anything else to make this stop.

“Are you ok, Stiles? Do you want me to stop?”

“No,” Stiles said, and hoped it came out less desperate than it sounded in his head. “Please, don’t stop.”

Derek moved up to the waistband of Stiles’ pajamas pants. Derek looked up at him with his eyebrows raised and Stiles nodded minutely and lifted his hips. Derek carefully took hold of the pants, making sure he didn’t touch the band of his underwear and pulled them down. Stiles leaned his head back and bit his lip to stifle a moan. There’s no way that Derek didn’t notice the hard line of his cock in his underwear. Derek seemed to pause, then placed his hands on Stiles’ knees and move up, the same gentle focused attention he had put everywhere else.

His hands stopped high on his thighs, too high. “Stiles,” Derek breathed and it was too low, too intimate. Stiles couldn’t even catch his breath, couldn’t reply. “Stiles did they hurt you… up there?”

“What?” Stiles said, looking at where Derek was indicating. “Oh. No, nothing there.”

Then he realized what he said, and snorted out a laugh. Derek laughed too.

“Oh god,” Stiles said, throwing his arm over his face. “I didn’t mean there was nothing there.”

“I can see that, actually,” Derek said, a smile in his voice.

“Oh god,” Stiles said, and he could feel himself flushing red.

Derek moved then, straddled Stiles with his knees on either side, and planted his elbows next to Stiles’ shoulders. They were both smiling, and Derek gently moved Stiles’ arm off his face. “Stiles,” he said, their eyes meeting. “Stiles, I-“

Just then there was a knock on the door downstairs.

“I hate whoever that is,” Stiles said.

Derek smiled, got off the bed and left the room.

He could hear Derek open the door, then some muffled voices. After a moment of calming down, he sat up, and saw the letter on the side table. Derek must have brought it up here. He turned it over and over in his hand, moved his finger to open it and then stopped. Instead he brought it to his nose and smelled it. He imagined he could smell home. That he could imagine the moment when Scott was sitting writing it, the moment when he sealed it, addressed it and maybe stuck it in the mailbox hoping that Stiles got this one, that he might reply. He imagined a little bit of Scott’s sadness, at wondering why Stiles had cut him out too.

For the first time in a while, he missed Scott, and thought that he might be able to have him as part of his life, this new life he might be building. Instead of just hiding. Maybe he could stop hiding. He turned his head into the pillow he was leaning on, and he could smell that one, and it smelled like Derek. He tucked the envelope under the pillow, and promised himself he would answer this one tomorrow. He was asleep before Derek came back.

***********************************************************************************

“Hey,” Stiles said the next day, as he saw Derek come into the kitchen. Stiles was cooking. He had woken up before Derek and felt better. And hungry. Derek looked sleepy, his hair was stuck up every which way and he squinted against the sun coming in through the window above the sink. Stiles thought he looked adorable. “Coffee’s here. Hope you don’t mind me taking over your kitchen. Just woke up starving, you know? Couldn’t stop myself. Felt like I hadn’t eaten in a million years.” Derek remained silent, got coffee and sat down at the table, just watching. “So, I’ve got another question for you. I opened the letter, and apparently my friend Scott, and his friend Lydia, are coming to New York City for, like a training or fashion show or I don’t know, but they’re coming and they want to see me. And I was just wondering, since you have the extra room if… you know what, nevermind, that’s stupid. It’s not your problem. Just forget I said anything.”

“Stiles,” Derek said. “I don’t think I even got enough of that to forget. Do you want your friends to stay in the extra room? That’s okay with me.”

“No,” Stiles said, and turned from the stove. “I was wondering if I could actually use the room. Pretend I live here, so they didn’t know I was….” And for the first time, Stiles didn’t want to say he was homeless. He used to feel good about saying he was homeless, feel superior and free, but now it just felt strange, like he didn’t want it to be true anymore.

“Of course,” Derek said. “You know you could also actually-“

“Thanks man, I appreciate it.” Stiles may have started to come around to living somewhere, but it still freaked him out. “Eggs?”

                *********************************************************************************

Stiles stayed there for a week, in the spare bedroom. Derek said “Well, if you are gonna pretend to live in that room you should probably start staying there.” Stiles would be lying if he didn’t spend that entire week thinking about that one statement. Did Derek mean he didn’t want him sharing his room again? Did Derek think that was a mistake? Or was Derek just trying to get him to stay in the bedroom instead of going back out to sleep on the street?

There wasn’t much chance of that. Stiles realized he surprisingly hadn’t even left the house in the past week. Derek came and went, but Stiles stayed still, laying on the couch, sleeping in the bed. His ventures outside were pretty much limited to taking the trash out. And man, it was cold. Stiles wondered if it was a particularly cold winter, or if living inside was getting him soft.

The day he realized Derek was out of diet coke was the day Stiles realized he’d been living in Derek’s house eating his food and drinking his drinks and doing heck all nothing to contribute. When Derek got home from the shelter that day, Stiles jumped up from the couch, fully dressed and freshly showered.

“I think I need a job,” Stiles said, before Derek had the door closed.

“Um, what?” Derek asked, locking the door and bringing a few bags into the kitchen. Stiles followed. Derek pulled a six pack of diet coke out of the bag and put it in the fridge.

“That!” Stiles said, pointing at the diet coke. “That right there! I don’t even think you drink diet coke!”

“I don’t. But you do.”

“Exactly!” Stiles said, finger pointed toward the ceiling now.

Derek’s face looked confused.

“You have been purchasing me diet coke. I have been drinking diet coke. I have been eating all your food!”

“But I like cooking for –“

“That’s beside the point! The point is, I don’t take charity.”

Derek leveled him a look.

“Well, okay. I take charity from charity organizations. Not from people. Not from people named Derek. Not from you.” His voiced calmed. “Plus, remember, you broke me and I can’t go outside anymore.”

“Broke you?”

“It’s too cold.” He frowned and Derek smiled.

“Tell you what,” Derek said. “Scott is coming tomorrow, right? He stays a few days and then you can focus on getting a job.”

“Tomorrow? Well, crap,” Stiles knew it was coming, but he wasn’t really ready. “Hey, what are we gonna tell Scott? He’s not gonna believe I’ve been living here for free. Especially when you don’t even work.” A thought hit Stiles. “Hey, so do you get paid mondo bucks to volunteer and garden or is there something I’ve been missing?”

“There’s something you’ve been missing. I have a lot of money from my family’s insurance policies. I don’t really have to work.”

“Oh, that’s horrible, man.” Then his face changed. “But something I totally should have known! We have to do emergency get to know each other session, okay?”

“Stiles, relax. We’re pretending to be roommates, not boyfriends, okay? We shouldn’t know everything about each other.”

“Right, right,” Stiles said.

*************************************************************************************

 

When he opened the door for Scott, he couldn’t stop himself from pulling him into a hug. A tight, embarrassing, choking back tears, missed each other so much that they can’t look at each other, but can’t stop squeezing the physical presence out of each other hug. When Stiles pulled back, Scott was crying and smiling, and he was sure he looked the same.

There was the sound a clearing throat behind him and then “Oh, Stiles, you remember Lydia, right?”

“Yeah, sure,” he shook Lydia’s hand. “I remember having a huge crush on you, how did you two become friends?”

Another clearing noise, this time behind Stiles. Derek smiled and said, “Stiles, let’s get them inside before we interrogate them.

“Oh, yeah, sure!”

It turned out Lydia started tutoring Scott for the PSATs and they became friends, and it was one of the ways Scott met his girlfriend Allison. Stiles gave Scott a high five and said “Way to go buddy, getting a girlfriend. You’ll have to tell me all about her.” To which Lydia rolled her eyes and said “Don’t worry, I’m sure you will.”

Stiles and Derek told a pre-agreed upon story about how they met at the shelter where both he and Stiles worked. However, recently, due to cuts, Stiles was laid off and he is looking for other work right now. Lydia narrowed her eyes at the story, looking around seeming to scrutinize the living room they were in, but didn’t say anything. They ate Derek’s lasagna at the kitchen table. Scott and Stiles spent the night telling stories, where most of the time the other one would interrupt loudly and then finish the story while barely being able to talk through laughing. Lydia and Derek didn’t seem to follow anything.

When they were going back to the living room after eating, Lydia interrupted a story about Stiles’ hamster in the fifth grade.

“Ok, that’s enough!” She said, as if she’d been holding it in all night. “I want the truth now.”

Stiles was lost. “About fluffy the hamster? Okay, I’ll skip to the end, See, my dad actually vacuumed him up in the –“             

“No, Stiles,” she said exasperated, and sat down slowly on the couch. “I want to know the truth about the two of you.” She looked between Stiles and Derek. “I know you’re not ‘roommates,’” and she used air quotes.

“Oh, I, ah…” Stiles rubbed his hand through his hair. “Well, uh..”

“Just stop, Stiles. I walked by that room earlier when I went to the bathroom. I couldn’t see anything in there but a backpack lying on the floor. And there’s nothing of yours in this house, no pictures or anything.”

Stiles’ heart was in his throat. “Okay. You got me, Lydia. It’s true. We’re not roommates.”

“Good!” She said, cheerily suddenly. “Now, you don’t have to hide your secret gay boyfriend relationship anymore, and we can get on with watching this movie. Also, you can move that backpack upstairs with you, so I can take the bed. Scott is okay with the couch.”

“Secret.. gay… boy…” Stiles was dumfounded.

“Yes, Stiles. I don’t know why you were trying to hide it, but you could cut the sexual tension with a knife. Just be out with his now so we can watch the movie. Come on.”

“Lydia,” Stiles started. “We’re not…”

“We’re not really out with everyone,” Derek interrupted. “We’re not really comfortable with people, like at work, or the garden knowing, so we were trying to keep it under wraps.” Derek reached out and took Stiles’ hand, nodding at him minutely to play along.

“I’ll respect that, though I don’t get why. You make a super cute couple.”

They piled onto the couch then, Stiles sitting scrunched up against Derek, who threw an arm around his shoulders. Stiles reached up in shock to touch his hand, to make sure it was there, when Derek grasped his hand tightly. When he looked over at him, he was smiling wide.

******************************************************************************

Later, when Stiles was getting undressed in Derek’s room, Derek already under the blanket, he was almost giddy. “You know, I have something to tell you.”

“What?”

“I want you to remember that I was gonna come clean, and you’re the one that played along. Also, my feet are freezing.” He jumped into the bed, got under the covers and pressed his feet against Derek’s legs.

He laughed, halfheartedly tried to struggle away, laughing.

“Thanks,” Stiles said, settling down. “You didn’t have to lie for me. Now I’ve invaded your bed.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “I really don’t mind. I like having a house full of people again.”

Stiles smiled, tucked in a little closer to Derek. “Are you sure? It doesn’t make you sadder?”

Derek smiled sadly. “I don’t think anything could make me any sadder. Has it made you sadder to see Scott?”

Stiles’ eyes started watering and a lump rose in his throat instantly. “Yeah,” he barely said. “Yeah, it was like, I was able to pretend it didn’t happen if I was running away. If I was Stiles who lived on the street, it was not Stiles who lost his dad. I made a different person. But Scott being here brings it all back.” He started crying, then tried to stop himself. “Sorry, sorry,” he said, wiping his eyes.

Derek put a hand on Stiles’ hand to stop him. “Don’t be sorry. You let me cry to you once. Let me return the favor.”

Stiles nodded, squeezed Derek’s hand. “I thought of another crazy thought I had.”

“What was it?”

“After my dad died, for a few brief seconds I thought about writing a letter of complaint.”

“What?”

“I used to do that a lot, as a teenager. You know, I always had trouble sleeping, would stay up late at night, drafting emails to companies about their products, or the misleading information on the Applebee’s menu. And when he died, my first thought was that it was a mistake, and surely there was someone I could write to. That if I could just write it well enough, and convince someone he wasn’t supposed to be dead, someone would say ‘Oh yes, young man, we’ve made a terrible mistake. Here’s your father back.’ It was just for a moment, but I thought it. He shouldn’t be dead.” The tears welled up in his eyes and he let them this time. When he blinked, they fell down his face, and Derek unclasped their hands to put a hand, big and comforting on the side of Stiles’ face, thumb sweeping under his eye.

“I haven’t talked to anyone about him,” Stiles said, crying openly. “Not at the funeral, not at the wake. I still can’t believe I stood in front of his dead body in a casket and said nice things about him. I haven’t said a word.” He turned his head into Derek and Derek folded on top of him, tucking his head into the space between his chin and chest, wrapped his arms around him and held him until he was done crying, and fell asleep.

********************************************************************************

Lydia, of course, wanted to go to a club. A real club, with lots of dancing. They actually went out shopping, and Lydia bought them all clothes. “If you’re going with me, you’re part of my accessories and I need you to look good.” They all end up wearing clothes that are tighter and brighter than they would ever wear. Stiles was wearing a bright blue shirt and said “I don’t think this is made with anything from our universe. How can it stretch and cling all once?” Derek wore a shiny button down red shirt with black jeans that made Stiles’ mouth go dry.

“Do people really go out this late?” Derek asked as they walked up to the club. “I mean, it’s 10:30. We’re usually in bed by now.”

Stiles’ heart skipped a beat at the way he said “we” and tried not to overanalyze it. Lydia rolled her eyes at him.

“It’s loud in here!” Derek said as soon as they got inside.

Lydia elbowed Stiles. “Will you take your boyfriend out on the dance floor before he makes anymore statements that make him sound like a dad?”

Stiles tried not to blush, took a deep breath to find his resolve, grabbed Derek’s hand and pulled him out in the middle of the crowd. When they turned to face each other, Stiles head was low, looking down. Derek put a finger under his chin and pushed up. “Stiles,” Derek said, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Stiles laughed, remembered that Derek was also in over his head. It’s not like he goes out partying. “Well,” Stiles said. “Since we’re pretending to be boyfriends, we’re not gonna be picking anyone up. So no need to be nervous about our dancing skills, I guess.”

Derek smiled, too, and nodded. He put a hand on Stiles’ hip, pulled him in close so their everything was touching and started moving his body to the music. It was all Stiles could do to keep up, but he managed. And god, it felt good. He let his hands move to Derek’s back, then his sides, then he started just running them everywhere, down his arms, squeezing his hands, then moving them up and running them through his hair.

A song with a slow beat came on, and Derek moved his head into the crook of Stiles’ neck. He shifted his hips a little, and then oh my god, was that the hard line of Derek’s cock? Stiles inhaled sharply, canted his hips forward quickly, just in case Derek was thinking about pulling back. Stiles was into it. So into it and he wanted there to be no mistake.

“Fuck, Stiles,” Derek breathed into his ear, his nose nuzzled up and down the side of his neck, up to his ear and then back. “You smell so good. This feels so good.”

“Yeah. It’s good.”

It might have been one song, or it might have been seven, but eventually, Derek pulled his head back, dazed. After a moment he shook his head, and made the universal sign for getting a drink. Stiles nodded. They held hands all the way there. Derek said something to the bartender, and Stiles found himself plastered to Derek’s back. Now that he’d gotten this taste of being close to Derek; now that he knew he can make Derek hard, he couldn’t stop touching him.

“Stiles,” Derek said, and he handed him a bottle of water, dislodging him from his back as he turned. “Drink this. Drink it all.”

Stiles smiled, watched as Derek cracked open his own bottle of water and drank it in long gulps. God, even the way he drank water looked good.

“Let’s go,” Stiles heard behind him, and jumped. It was Lydia and she looked exhausted.

“Already?” Stiles said.

“Stiles, it’s three in the morning.”

“Huh.” He looked at Derek, who shrugged and raises his eyebrows.

Derek reached out and grabbed his hand. He held his gaze, and Stiles’ heart jumped at the seriousness he saw there. It was like he was trying to burn intent into Stiles. Was he reading this right? Did Derek really feel something, or was he just a really good actor?

They got a cab home, and there wasn’t enough room. Stiles sat on Derek’s lap and Derek kept both hands on him, one on his hip, the other one on the small of his back. Stiles turned into Derek, looking down at his face. They locked eyes, and Stiles couldn’t stop himself. He leaned down, and their mouths connected.

As soon as their lips touched, Stiles sharply inhaled. He couldn’t believe they were actually kissing. He felt a wave of tingling go over his body. Oh god, he might have actually quivered. He felt Derek’s hand twist in the back of his shirt. Stiles pressed in closer. Derek’s hand twisted harder and Stiles’ heart beat picked up as he realized Scott and Lydia couldn’t even see Derek’s hand, his back was away from him, and that it wasn’t for show. Maybe Derek’s loss of control, the way he seemed to be hanging on to Stiles’ shirt for dear life wasn’t for show.

Derek’s other moved up to the back of his neck and pulled him closer. When their tongues touched, Stiles may have let out a moan. Then Stiles felt a hard slap on the back of his head. “Dude!” Scott said. “I don’t need to see that.” Stiles laughed nervously and pulled back, but Derek’s hand remained on his back, opened handed now, possessive. Stiles looked at Derek, and his eyes were intense again, like they were in the club. Piercing and steady looking at him.

As soon as they got in the room, Derek closed the door and pressed him against it. Their bodies flushed to each other and Derek started kissing him deeply, quickly, like the kiss in the car was just practice, like that kiss was restrained, like maybe he didn’t know how much longer he could kiss him.

“Stiles,” Derek said, then leaned back in to kiss him again. His lips were firm, wet, sliding, tongue, biting his lip. Oh god, Stiles had never been kissed like this. “Stiles,” Derek said again. Another kiss. “Stiles, do you want me to stop? Do you want to stop?”

Stiles could barely register the thought, didn’t respond, just pulled Derek closer. Derek’s mouth went down to mouth at his neck and Stiles threw his head back, hitting the door behind him. “Stiles, please,” Derek said. “I need to know you want this.”

Stiles moaned as Derek bit lightly into his collarbone. “Yes.” He said, and his voice was hoarser, lower than he expected. “I want this Derek, don’t stop.”

Stiles felt something break loose in Derek, and he pushed forward, knocking Stiles back, off his equilibrium. Derek moved his arms under Stiles’ legs and picked him up. Stiles automatically wrapped his legs around him. Derek moved away from the door, one arm tight around his back, the other in Stiles’ hair, holding him still to crash their mouths back together. Derek carried him across the room, and laid him down on the bed, going with him, not separating their bodies for a moment.

Stiles lifted his hips and Derek actually growled, and god that was hot, and pressed back down just as hard. Stiles could feel Derek, hot and hard between their pants, and suddenly Stiles needed more, right then. “Derek,” he said, but Derek didn’t respond, just kept grinding his hips down into Stiles, his face buried in Stiles’ neck. “Derek,” Stiles tried again. “Please Derek, can we be naked?”

Apparently Derek heard that one because in a flash, he sat up, knees straddling Stiles, pulled off his own shirt and unbuttoned his pants. He leaned over on his side to push his pants and underwear down. Stiles’ mouth was open but he couldn’t make a noise.

“You too,” Derek said, and he was direct, no questions, and god, that was hot too.

Stiles quickly shucked his clothes and they were both naked, lying next to each other. Derek rolled over without hesitation and oh, that felt nice. Derek rolled until he was on top of him and reached down with his hand and grabbed both their cocks together. They both moaned. Derek started moving again, moving their hips and slowly moving his hand up and down.

“Jesus fuck, Stiles. Oh. Stiles. I can’t- I’m not gonna last.”

Stiles tried to respond, but it came out like a moan again. Everything felt too good, and it was too fast, but he couldn’t stop. He gasped in a breath enough to talk. “Me too,” he said, and as soon as he did, he knew it was over. “Oh, oh, Derek. I’m- I’m coming.”

“Fuck,” Derek said, and he pressed down, hard, and squeezed his hand. Stiles knew he came first, he shuddered and cursed, and then Derek said “Stiles,” again, softer and leaned down, tried to kiss him as he came, but ended up with his mouth open, stuttering into Stiles’ mouth.

After a moment, he moved his head, buried his face into Stiles’ neck. They stayed like that, Stiles running his hand up and down Derek’s back. “Hey,” Stiles said softly. “I think we need a washcloth.” Derek grabbed Stiles’ bicep, like the thought of him moving was terrifying. “I’ll be right back,’ he said with a laugh.

Derek moved off him and laid on his side. He looked embarrassed. “Sorry, I just- Sorry.”

Stiles walked out of the bathroom, wiping himself with a wet washcloth, folded it over and then wiped it down Derek’s stomach. Derek laid back, sucked in air and closed his eyes.

Stiles slowed down, wiped him longer than was probably necessary. “You’re so amazing, Derek. God, I wish you could see- just how you look to me. Right now. How you look to me all the time.”

Derek opened his eyes, grabbed the washcloth from Stiles and threw it in the general direction of the hamper. He pulled Stiles down on top of him, one hand steady on his back and one moving up to grasp the hair on the back of his head. He lunged up for a kiss, deep, hungry. “When can you go again?”

Stiles looked down between them and he was already half hard again. “That depends,” Stiles said. “What were you thinking of?”

Derek came up for another kiss, slower this time, turning the tease into a serious kiss. He ran his hand down Stiles’ back and down to his knee, bent his knee upwards. He traced his path back to Stiles’ ass and rested his hand just there between his cheeks. “I want every part of you, Stiles.”

Stiles may or may not have gone a little weak at his words, which Derek took advantage of to flip them over. Derek moved down Stiles’ chest quickly, kissing and licking. He nuzzled Stiles’ hipbone and then licked right there too and yeah, Stiles was completely hard. Derek licked a long stripe up his cock and opened his mouth at the top and swallowed him down with no hesitation. “Derek!” Stiles couldn’t contain himself. He couldn’t say anything else, head thrown back, hips moving up without his knowledge. Derek didn’t pull off, or try to hold him down, just let Stiles move inside his mouth, pushing harder, like Stiles’ dick hitting the back of this throat was the best feeling ever.

Derek took a finger and rubbed it in the slick mess he made of his cock and then moved it back, to press into Stiles’ hole. “Derek!” Stiles yelled again and then he came, fast and hard down Derek’s throat. He was still shuddering when Derek pulled off quickly, straddled Stiles and stripped his own cock, fast and focused. “Derek, wait, let me-“ but Derek came too fast, aimed his come to stripe up and down Stiles’ chest. Derek leaned forward and rubbed it in with a big hand.

He fell over a little, one arm on the bed next to Stiles’ face. He chuckled lightly. “Sorry,” he said. He rolled all the way over, on his back next to Stiles. “Sorry. I just- I wanted you to smell like me. That’s probably weird.”

“Derek,” Stiles responded. “That was the single hottest thing to ever happen to me in my whole life.”

“Which part?”

“All the parts.”

“So we can do it again?” Derek sounded terrified to ask, but Stiles couldn't help but laugh.

“I think I need a break.”

“No,” Derek said. “I mean-“

“I know what you mean,” Stiles leaned over and kissed him once, gently. “And the answer is yes, but seriously I need a few hours.”

“Stiles?”

“Yeah?” His eyes were already closed.

“Don’t wipe yourself off just yet.”

Stiles huffed a laugh. “Freak.”

********************************************************************************************

When Stiles woke up, Derek wasn’t in the bed. He put on his pajama pants and went downstairs. Derek, Scott and Lydia were eating pancakes. Stiles stopped for a moment, torn between feeling so much affection for the people gathered in that room, and also terror about how Derek would look at him in the next moment.

Stiles took a step in and everyone turned to look at him. Everyone except Derek. It only took him another second, and a steadying breath, and then Derek slowly turned his head to look at Stiles. A full smile spread out over his face, like he was going to try and stop it and couldn’t. Then he looked a little embarrassed, looked down and sighed. Stiles finally exhaled.

“Morning everyone,” Stiles said, as if nothing amazing had just happened, and walked over to the pancakes.

Derek got up, sidled up behind him and kissed him on the cheek. “Morning.” He pointed at the pile of pancakes “Blueberry ones are on the bottom.”

When they both sat down, barely able to not look at each other without blushing, Scott started talking with his mouth full. “Derek, these are great. You must have gotten the recipe from your mom.”

Derek froze. Stiles was a little confused. “Oh, was your mom a good cook, Derek?”

Scott answered instead of Derek. "Of course she was, Stiles, don’t you remember? She used to cook for the whole neighborhood when we were kids. Man, I remember days when both my parents were working, and it would have been reheated spaghetti every night if it wasn’t for your mom. She always made sure all the kids in the neighborhood got dinner. And it was so good! I mean, like quality ingredients.”

Stiles put down his fork and swallowed heavily. What?

“I just think it’s so cool you two found each other. I mean, what are the chances that two people that grew up in Beacon Hills and moved away would meet up in a city as huge as New York! Crazy!”

“Yeah, nuts,” Stiles fake-laughed. He felt sick. He was right, Isaac was right. Derek just wanted to help Stiles because he remembered him from Beacon Hills. Maybe Scott even sent him. He was so stupid. Derek didn’t really want him, he was babysitting.

“Scott, let’s go,” Lydia said, bustling up from the table. “We’re going to be late to the fashion show.”

Scott groaned.

"You promised if I let you tag along, you’d go with me.”

“I know, I know.” Scott got up too and in a few moments, they were out the door.

Stiles and Derek both sat at the table in silence for long moments.

Finally Stiles let his arms fall down heavily on the table. “Really? That’s all? No explanation at all? You’re just going to sit there and be quiet? Fine. I’ll just get my stuff and go.”

“Stiles, wait.”        

“What?” Stiles stopped at the doorway to the kitchen, but didn’t turn around.

“I didn’t know who you even were until that day, Thanksgiving, when I heard your last name. I hadn’t made the connection, but I still wanted you. I remembered the Sheriff, your dad, from the fire. He was good to me. I thought maybe at first it was just a coincidence of name or something. I wasn’t even sure.”

Stiles turned around. “You should have asked.”

“I know,” Derek stood up. “I didn’t want to mess anything up. I didn’t want to scare you away. I wanted you to keep coming back to me. And then I thought, even if you didn’t feel… anything for me, I still wanted you to be safe. As a way to return the favor to your dad for being nice to me when I was falling apart.”

Stiles threw up his hands in frustration. “It’s so unfair! I just can’t stay mad at you for anything! It’s very annoying. If this is going to work out, we’re going to have to work on you being way too cute.”

Derek’s shoulders sagged in relief. “You think this might work out?”

“Well, I’ve already gotten used to you. And all my things are here. I might as well stay.”

Derek crossed the room and kissed him. “Good, because you still smell like me, and it’s driving me crazy. Come upstairs with me?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said, already breathless. “Yeah.”

In the bed, after ten minutes of Derek working Stiles open with his fingers, Stiles resorted to begging.

“Please, Derek,” Stiles moaned, head buried in the pillow, trying desperately not to rub on the sheets to get himself off. “Please, Derek. I want you inside me. I’m ready.”

Derek leaned over. “Stiles, we don’t have to do that. We can just do this. I don’t want to rush. I want to do this right. I-“    

“Oh my god, Derek. I swear. Please, stop talking and fuck me.”

“Bossy,” he said, slapped his ass playfully, spread lube on his cock and pressed inside of Stiles. “Oh, fuck,” Derek said, bottoming out in one slow, smooth stroke in. “Oh, Stiles. Oh, you were ready for me.” He leaned down, blanketing him over his back, nuzzling into Stiles’ neck. “Oh, you feel so good.”    

Derek pulled back slowly, pushed back in. “Stiles. Stiles, you smell so good.”

Stiles was barely holding on. He was gripping the sheet. He was trying very hard to take regular breaths. It felt good. It felt so good. It didn’t hurt like he thought it would. It just felt good, like they were closer and more connected than he knew they could be. Then Derek bit his neck and that sent shivers all over. “Oh. Oh, Derek. I like that. Put that down as me liking that.” He bucked back and Derek pushed down harder.

Derek moved his head back and rested his head between Stiles’ shoulder blades. He took three large steadying breaths. “Fuck, Stiles, I’m gonna come. I can’t-“ and he stuttered, gasped for breath, let out a long groan and pressed deep and long into Stiles.

Stiles snuck his hand underneath himself and wrapped his hand around his own cock. Derek was still inside him, still mostly hard, and he made small movements fucking into his hand and then back onto Derek’s cock. All he could say was ‘oh god, oh god, oh god’ until his orgasm overtook him and he moaned, long and low as he came.

After a moment, Derek pulled out, collapsed on his side, then immediately gathered Stiles into his arms.

“Can I ask a question?” Stiles asked.

“Anything.”

“What did you mean when you said you liked the way I smell?”

“Hmm?” Derek was already dozing off.

“What do I smell like?”

“Oh,” Derek said, rearranging them so his could run his nose up and down Stiles’ neck. “You smell like mine.”

**************************************************************************************

The next day they said goodbye to Scott and Lydia. There were lots of hugs, promises to visit, call, actually write a response to letters. When Lydia hugged Stiles goodbye, she whispered, “You’re welcome” in his ear and then lifted her eyebrows with a look back to Derek.

“What? How did you know… And you…?”

“Shh. It’ll be our secret.” And then they were gone.

*****************************************************************************************

That night they finally watched the last episode to be caught up on The Walking Dead. As the credits rolled, Stiles said, “Well now I just feel lost. Like I don’t know what to do with myself. When are there new episodes?”

Derek was clearing up plates from the pizza they ordered. “Not for a while. I guess you’ll just have to hang around for a long while.” He said it teasingly, then realized what he said and froze. “I mean, if you…. I need to go put this…” And he left the room quickly.

Stiles stood in the doorway of the kitchen and leaned against the doorjamb. Derek was obviously nervous, banging around the kitchen.

“I’m going to say yes.”

“What?”

“Just ask me Derek, and I’ll say yes.”

Derek stopped what he was doing and looked at Stiles across the kitchen. “Stiles, will you stay here with me?”

Stiles wondered for a moment if he should tease, pretend to consider his options, but he stopped himself. Watching Derek, this amazing person he met, in spite of death and horrors and fires and running away, he still met him and ended up with him. Watching Derek, this beautiful man, watching him with fear still in his eyes at his answer, he couldn’t. “Yeah. Yes. Now come over here and kiss me.”

Derek did. In between kisses, he said, “I do have one more question for you.”

"What?”

“Have you ever seen any of Game of Thrones?”

END

               

Chapter Text

Two weeks later, Stiles found a job working second shift at a comic book store. He had come home the first day and couldn’t stop talking about it. “They’re paying me to be in a comic book store all day! I mean, I talk to people about comics, I organize comics, it’s just ridiculous!”

The first day Stiles worked a closing shift, he came home quiet. It took until after he stripped down, got in bed and settled in Derek’s arms that he said, “I counted down the register, I shut the lights, I locked the door. I have the keys. They trusted me. And I did something right.”

Derek wanted to shake Stiles, yell at him that of course he is trustworthy, that he is smart, that he can do a lot more than count a register, but instead he stayed quiet and kissed him on his forehead softly, then ran his fingers through his hair until he fell asleep.

When Stiles got his first paycheck, Derek wouldn’t accept any money for ‘back rent’ as Stiles had put it. Derek had said “Spend it on whatever you want.” That’s how Derek found himself standing next to Stiles in the freezing cold at dusk in the park. Stiles popped the trunk of Derek’s car and smiled. Inside were twelve backpacks, stuffed full with supplies. They had sweaters, gloves, hats, water, snacks, handwarmers, and several other things that Stiles deemed ‘necessary’ (including gummy bears) in each backpack.

Stiles looked up at the sky and then back down at the trunk, his breath showing in the cold. “My dad loved this time of night. When one side of the sky is light blue and the other side is dark blue.”

A guy walked up behind Stiles and he turned, “Hey man, I got something for you. You been doing okay? Take this. Tell Joe and the others to come around. I got one for everybody. Thanks man, take care of yourself.” He patted him on the back and the guy nodded his thanks and walked off.

Derek watched Stiles’ face light up from the interaction. Derek felt a warmth inside himself even though he was shivering. Derek had run away to New York City, too. He couldn’t stand being alone with the heavy absence of his family anymore. He couldn’t stand everyone in the town looking at him with that sad look in their eyes, then turning away back to their own lives without a second glace. He wanted to be around other people who were not okay, and maybe use the things he did have, his time, his money, and the knowledge his mother gave him of how to cook, to help others. To help himself.

Watching Stiles use his first paycheck to help the people who helped him; that he still saw the people whose lives had taken bad turns, as people deserving of the best. He swore his heart pumped a little faster and he felt something he might believe was happiness rush through his veins. He smiled as he watched Stiles, and he couldn’t stop. Stiles’ nose was already getting a little red and he was checking the pockets of one of the packs, when Derek leaned into his space and said quietly, “I love you, you know.”

Stiles froze, and Derek leaned away still smiling. They hadn’t said it yet. They had danced around it, saying I love you in different ways. Like Stiles moaning into a plate of blueberry pancakes and saying, “Oh my god, these are amazing, you have to promise to make these for me forever.” Or Derek pulling Stiles close after sex, nuzzling his nose into the back of his neck and saying, “God, you’re amazing. Stay. Just stay, okay?” Or Stiles waking Derek up by kissing down his chest, and whispering, “Derek, you’re so… just let me… don’t wake up all the way yet… just let me take care of you.”

At the same moment Stiles regained enough of his sense to turn to Derek, someone tapped him on the shoulder and he jumped in surprise. “Joe! Good news, I got a job. So I can finally pay you back for the gloves, man. Here’s a whole backpack.” Joe looked like he was about to turn it down for being too much. “Look man, if there’s anything in there you don’t need, just pass it on to whoever does.”

************************************************************************************

The drive home was silent. Derek didn’t know if maybe Stiles was mad at him or didn’t feel the same way. As each second passed, the warmth and happiness he felt was replaced by dread. Maybe they’d get home and Stiles would start packing his stuff. Fuck, he’d scared him away again. Like when he offered him the bedroom. He shouldn’t have tried to move this fast. It was a stupid move.

When Derek opened the front door, he couldn’t take the tension anymore.

“Look, Stiles,” he said, “If you don’t feel the same way about me, that’s fine, just pretend I didn’t-“

And then Stiles kissed him hard. He pulled back for a moment, looked at Derek’s face, searching it, then pulled him back in for a kiss again. When he pulled back for a second time, he said “God, you’re such an asshole. Of course I love you. I was just gonna do a thing.” He turned away, hung up his coat, and left Derek standing in the hallway, breathing heavily against the wall.

Derek tried to process being called an asshole, being told Stiles loved him and trying to figure out what a ‘thing’ might be.

When Derek finally got himself together, took off his own coat and moved into the kitchen, Stiles was drinking orange juice from the container, the refrigerator door hanging open. He closed the door and then slammed the orange juice container down on the counter with a little more force than necessary.

“I didn’t use all the money from my paycheck,” Stiles said, as if that was some sort of explanation.

Derek looked at him, confused.

“I didn’t use it all on the backpacks, because I was going to try and make you a romantic dinner, then take a walk with you in the park and tell you that I love you.”

Derek couldn’t help but smile.

Stiles smiled too. “Quit smiling you asshole.”

“Sorry, can’t help it,” Derek said as he walked slowly across the kitchen. “You love me.”

“Yeah, so?” Stiles said, but he let Derek back him up against the counter.

“So I want you to fuck me tonight.”

Derek swore Stiles whimpered. “What? I mean, yeah, yes. Now?”

“Now,” Derek said, and left Stiles breathing heavily this time.

*************************************************************************

When Stiles caught up with Derek on the bed, he already had his socks off and his shirt. Stiles didn’t stop, just walked over and straddled him, kissing him soundly.

“Jesus Fucking Christ, Derek, you can’t just say things like that. Do you mean it? Do you want to?”

Derek surged up and kissed Stiles again, deep, full of desire and intent. “Yes. Yes, I want to.” Two more hot, opened mouthed kisses, then a third, until Derek got impatient and pushed Stiles up. “Stiles, please. Naked, now.”

Stiles pulled his shirt over this head and looked down at Derek. He looked… in awe. Derek could hardly believe it on his best of days that Stiles stayed with him, that Stiles even wanted to be around him, and now here he was, in his bed, saying he loved him, and looking down at him like he was something precious, something that actually deserved being loved.

Derek shifted, suddenly uncomfortable, and looked away. When he looked back, he reached out for Stiles’ midsection, chest heaving deeply, but steadily. He wasn’t having a panic attack, he was just… maybe unsteady with the moment as much as Derek was.

“Hey,” Stiles said, and reached down to swipe his thumb under Derek’s eye. Which is when Derek realized he might be crying. “Hey, remember I said, we don’t have to. Derek, what we do already is fine, more than fine, and I love-“

“I know,” Derek said, stopping him. “I know, and I want this, and I trust you. It’s just, you know, big, but I want it.”

Stiles kept his serious face for another beat, and then huffed out a laugh, “I’m sorry, intense moment and everything, but there’s a big penis joke in there I couldn’t stop my brain from formulating.”

Derek laughed out loud, and pulled Stiles back onto him. Derek didn’t realize that it was possible to smile and laugh while kissing, but he had been doing it often since he met Stiles.

“Ok, pants now,” Derek said.

They both tore at the other’s pants, and then Stiles was kicking wildly, trying to get his pants off his legs. Derek laughed as he pushed down his own more calmly. Stiles flopped down on the bed next to Derek, a smile still playing on his face. “Do you still like me when I ruin the moment?”

“Stiles, you are the moment.”

“See?” Stiles said, “that’s smooth. Why can’t I be smooth?”

“I’m okay with you just the way you are,” Derek said, reaching out to run his fingers through Stiles’ hair.

“Well, I need you to roll over.”

Derek bit his lip, and then did as instructed. He closed his eyes, and heard Stiles rummaging around under the bed. After a moment, he felt a hand gently smooth down his back.

“Remember it’s still just me back here, okay? If anything feels wrong, or you want to stop, just tell me, okay?”

Derek nodded. He felt Stiles touch him, with one lubed up finger, and tensed instantly. Stiles just circled and lightly rubbed, and Derek started to relax.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, it’s okay,” Derek said, and tried for not sounding terrified.

“Okay, I’m going to push one finger in and if you want me to stop, just say so, okay?

“Okay,” and he took a deep breath and then let it out slowly. Which is when Stiles slowly pushed in his finger. Derek didn’t know he could feel pleasure in that part of his body, but all of a sudden he was. He took another breath, “Oh god, Stiles.”

“Bad or good?” Stiles asked, stilling his fingers.

“Good, good, don’t stop.” Derek pushed his face into the pillow and pushed his ass back into Stiles’ hand. He didn’t care if it was desperate, he wanted to feel more of the feeling.

“Fuck, Derek. Fuck. I’m so glad you like it. I mean, I was serious about being okay if you didn’t, but fuck. You look good like this. I’m gonna try another finger.”

There was a stretch at two he hadn’t felt at one, but it only caused to add another layer of pleasure, and cause his hips to stutter into the mattress and then back into his fingers. He let out a moan, he knew he did, but he couldn’t stop it.

“Derek,” Stiles said, but kept his fingers moving slowly, in an out. “Derek, I have a question for you.” He groaned in reply, which Stiles must have taken to mean continue with his question. He leaned forward, so he was close to Derek’s ear and lowered his voice, like he was telling him a secret. “Can I try a toy on you?”

“What?”

A purple butt plug came into Derek’s view. He must have had it under the bed and gotten it out earlier. Derek had never used one, but he had watched enough porn to know what it was.

“I think it might make things easier. And it’ll be super sexy.”

“Yes,” Derek said.

He whimpered when he felt Stiles’ finger move away, but then felt a warm slick pressure pushing in. When it met resistance, Stiles stopped, pulled it out a little and then pushed again, slowly. He repeated this cycle until, “Holy fuck, Derek, it’s at the biggest part. Are you okay? Does it feel good? Fuck, Derek, it looks so good in you. Does it feel good?’

“Yes. Yes yes,” Was all Derek could articulate and then he felt it sink all the way in. Stiles kept his hand on the end of it, and pushed himself up to Derek’s shoulder, meeting his lips in a dirty open mouthed kiss.

He pressed lightly on the plug and Derek hissed. “I love you. Fuck, Derek, I love you so much.” Another kiss, mostly tongue. “Can I fuck you now? Please? Can I? Is that okay?”

“Yes yes yes,” Derek said again. Then Stiles was behind him again, and pulling out the plug. After another few moments where Derek heard Stiles slicking himself up, he felt a pressure at his opening. Bigger than the plug, bigger than the fingers, and for a moment, he panicked.

“Here,” Stiles said, putting his hands under his hips. “Up on your knees a little more. It will feel better.”

Once he did, he felt more open and the pressure was less. Stiles pushed inside, slowly, but steadily. He didn’t stop, and Derek felt for a moment like it was too much, and he opened his mouth to say so, when all of a sudden he must have passed some magic mark, because all the pressure was gone and all it felt was good. A deep moan came out of Derek instead of any protest and he dropped his head to the pillow in front of him.

“Are you okay?” Stiles asked, breathless.

“Yeah. Yes. I’m okay. Just don’t move yet.”

“Okay.” More breathing. “I have something else to tell you. The first time you fucked me. That was the first time for me, too.”

“Shit, Stiles. Why didn’t you tell me? I would have been more…”

“Dude, I was a teenager who knew how to hack the internet. I have had stuff up my ass. It wasn’t a…”

“I loved you then, too, you know,” Derek interrupted. “I hadn’t said it yet, but you…”

Stiles bent over gently and turned his head to kiss him lightly. “I know,” he said. “Can I fuck you yet?”

“Yeah.”

The first thrust actually pushed him further in, and then he pulled out just a little to push back in.

“Still okay?”

“Yeah,” Derek said. “Stop asking and do it. Please.”

“Dear god, you should beg more often. I’m putting it on our to-do list.”

Stiles put his hands on his hips, and started a rhythm. Derek could hear their skin slapping together, could feel the heat between them, could feel pleasure vibrating through his skin, but he needed something more. “Touch me, Stiles. Please, I need to come. Please.”

He didn’t hesitate, and Stiles wrapped his hands firmly around Derek’s cock. “I’m gonna come,” Stiles said quietly. He folded his body over Derek’s and nuzzled in his neck. “Oh, Derek, come with me, I’m gonna come.” And he pushed hard into Derek, stilling, then stuttering, pushing hard again. He pumped Derek quickly, harder than he normally did and Derek’s orgasm slammed through him, and he pushed back on Stiles’ still hard cock.

Derek might have yelled out, or he might have just moaned with his mouth hanging open, he wasn’t sure, but he knew it wasn’t pretty. It must not have mattered much, because Stiles pulled out slowly, then turned Derek quickly. He peppered his face with soft kisses and murmured softly between, just phrases, words, “oh derek, oh god, yeah, was so good, you were so good, love you so much, that was amazing, you’re amazing.” And then he fell asleep.

********************************************************************************

When Derek woke up in the morning, nothing was different. Stiles had stolen all the blankets and his hair was sticking up in all different places. Derek stayed there a moment, and just looked at him and smiled. When Derek’s alarm went off, Stiles said, “Humuphuwantum?” and rubbed at his eyes.

“Derek, I need some coffee. Does coffee exist in the house?” Stiles said, with clearer speech, but with his eyes still closed.

“Yeah, I’m sure it does somewhere.” Derek didn’t move, though. Some small part of himself thought that if he gave himself over to someone completely again, something bad would happen. They would run away, morph into someone evil, or end up cut in half and out of his life. But Stiles was there. He hadn’t changed into anyone else overnight. He was still himself, and he was still there. Nothing was different. It was amazing.

Stiles opened his eyes, and then closed them quickly like the daytime light was offensive to him. “Derek, if there is coffee somewhere in existence, can it come to be somehow in the area within my reach? I have a million dollars to give you.”

Derek put a hand on Stiles’ face. He knew Stiles was joking, but Derek really did have a million dollars. He didn’t need that. He needed sleepy Stiles in his bed, and now he had that too. He leaned over and kissed his forehead. “Go back to sleep. I’ll tell you when it’s ready.”